Men-on-pause: The trials and tribulations of a non-conformist

written by Nik Nadzru Iskandar

The cessation of a (late-20's/early-30's Malay) male's "productive" system, in their ongoing individual search for a far greater goal in life.

_Just got back from a 'gebang-gebang tepi mamak' session with Abg Long, my maternal cousin; having our usual discussions on this and that, upon which we came across an epiphany of sorts of on our current predicament in life.

You see, we are urban Malay male in our late-20's/early 30's who have literally forsaken the teachings passed on from our Fathers, Moms, Uncles and Aunts; and decided for once in our life, we'd do things our way.
For the uninitiated, here's the basic teachings of being a regular Malay male (as taught to us by our moms and aunts):

1. Pergi sekolah, belajar sungguh-sungguh, jangan main-main, exam kena skor.

2. Masuk universiti, belajar tinggi-tinggi, pegi oversea, dapat 'star-peket' (certificate!).

3. Cari kerja, kerja sungguh-sungguh, biar cepat naik pangkat, dapat gaji besar.

4. Beli rumah, bayar ansuran; beli kereta, bayar ansuran; beli etc., bayar ansuran.

5. Cari perempuan solehah, bertunang express, cepat-cepat kahwin.

6. Dapatkan cucu, benda baik jgn ditangguh, live happily ever after.

7. Wash, rinse, & repeat ad infinitum for the next generation of Malays.

Note to Mom:
Somewhere along the way I lost the plot. I'm sorry for breaking your heart, but this is my life and I want to live it my way.

Somewhere along the way I got exposed to the grunge sounds of Nirvana & rakan-rakan, saw the brilliant works of Alfred Hitchcock & Akira Kurosawa, read the thoughts of Sigmund Freud & Hunter S. Thompson, traversed the wild imaginings of Jack Kirby & Stan Lee, acted out the works of George Lucas & Quentin Tarantino line by line, etc. etc. etc.

I've changed. I don't want the same life that you want for me.

The times have changed. Opportunities that weren't there for you, are out there for me.

I don't look down on Malay men that has stuck to the plan. Instead I take off my hat and give them a big salute for having the balls to go along with it. Aku respect lu beb! Perjuangan mu ku sanjung dan wa tabik sama lu. Gua cuma decide gua tak nak join lu jer...bukannya gua condemn lifestyle lu. To each their own, I say.

Abg Long and I come upon one realization tonight.

We are Malay males in our late-20's/early-30's facing Men-on-pause symptoms:

1. Lack of a job/a job with any prospect or future progression.

2. Don't own any wealth to our name (savings, insurance, unit trust, etc.).

3. Don't own any assets to our name (house, car, etc.).

4. Not getting married nor bearing our moms any cucus anytime soon.

5. Despite ALL of this, we are content in our hearts because we are finally doing things our way and working slowly but surely towards our dreams and goals.

We also realized another thing tonight.

There's a voice inside us. In our souls. It propels us. It speaks to us. It nags. It whispers:

After much discussion, we believe this is the same voice that has hounded men since time in memorial. Since the days of proto-humans living in caves.

This is the voice that nags at the hunter-gatherers to leave behind their caves. The warmth of their fires, the comfort of their women and the delight in their babies.

This is the voice that propels these same hunter-gatherers to explore past their familiar breeding grounds. To discover new lays of the land. To chart new hunting/trade routes. And ultimately uncover new game, new hunts, and bring back the spoils of victory back to the caves.

This voice propels all men. And it has done so over millenia.

Because of it man has first conquered their land. Then the seas. Cultures and civilization rose and fell. Riches were made and war were wrought. Kingdoms and cities came to being, & politics and arts became fashionable. Science and technology prospered. Not content with conquering, we tackled the skies. Once man-made flight became possible we dreamt of the stars and putting men on the moon.And that we achieved too!

All because of this one voice inside us. It's hunger for exploration, for discovery, for innovation, for knowledge, for power.

Everything we have achieved so far. This human mass of network we've built. All due to it's constant, thrumming beat to the staccato of our heart, our souls, our being.

I feel it in me with every breath I take. It reminds me of my purpose. It reminds me of what I want to achieve. And what I need to do to achieve it.

I refuse to lead a cookie-cutter existence. I fear waking up at the age of 35 with an adoring wife, 2.5 kids, a proud house & car owner, member to prestigious country clubs, with a bang-up corporate job, promotions and huge pay on the line; and the prospects of bills, loans, and responsibilities. The life of an average "consumer".

Some people say I'm childish. Some people say I refuse to grow up. Some people say I live in a dream world.

Deep down I know there is another alternative to the cookie-cutter existence.

All the men's achievements before me to set up this mass network of human civilization will not go to naught. There's a reason for it. We should wake up from our stupor and take advantage of it. Use it to our benefit and awaken the other consumers in their cycle of consumption stupor. Educate them that there is an alternative. Another way out. Another way of being.

And so I set upon my journey. Nobody said the path less traveled would ever be easy.
Born during the 1980s boom, Nik has had an engaging (read: extended) childhood over the years. With close to 20 years of experience as a film geek, a consummate gamer (Magic: the Gathering, board games, card games) and a comic book junkie, he's the go-to-guy around the BuzzPOP! office for most of our latest news. Nik are also the founder of Buzzpop.net.  

Note to readers: If you think these are the meandering reflections of a too-much coffee man in the early hours of the day...you are correct. If you think these are the impassioned affirmations of a man on his path to something different...you are also correct. Thank you for reading & forgive any spelling mistakes made upon this late hour aight.

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