Where I don't care what others think


November 29th, 2016 Posted in Work | No Comments »

One of the feelings I really enjoy is being instrumental. I’d prefer to feel instrumental than successful, happy, or satisfied because I find it enjoyable to have some control over the outcome.  Given a choice between being an instrumental failure or uselessly successful I could sleep better being a failure most nights.

Maybe this preference has roots going back to the grammar school experience of needing to take charge over failing group projects (something that surprisingly continued into college) or the high tolerance for losing I built up playing middle school sports. My team may have been really really bad at the sport, but at least I did the best I could running around chasing the sports ball.  That said, I don’t necessarily have to physically produce or participate in an output to feel instrumental, nor do I have to be a gatekeeper; sometimes it’s as easy as electing to do nothing, delegate, or just offer advice.  Doing nothing and being instrumental probably don’t go together too often, but I think there’s plenty of strategic overlap for people who work in a group / team setting.

There’s a well known phrase “you are not your job” which I disagree with pretty strongly. Setting that dispute aside, if you assume that I am partially defined by work it’s easy to understand that I would want a role in driving that definition, by extension defining myself.  I don’t aspire to build a resume full of successfully doing what anyone else could have done or just doing what I’ve been told.  Historically, I’ve been pretty good at avoiding those pitfalls and working on things where I’m providing and being recognized for some unique value but I’ve forgotten how easy it is to fall off this wagon as it rides off into the horizon.

Good night moon.

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Fog of Work

October 16th, 2016 Posted in Work | 1 Comment »

In the last ~5 years of working at my current gig I’ve grown to appreciate a certain amount of clarity. I haven’t always had direction, but I’ve almost always had a pretty clear understanding of the field and all the choices ahead of me. I’ve been able to look around, survey the seas, and set sail in whatever direction I felt appropriate.

Lately I’ve felt more uncertain, like a fog has settled in around me. I can still set sail in whatever direction I please, but I’m not long able to discern anything of value looking around surveying the seas and the stars. This is probably par for the course, I shouldn’t have expected to permanently enjoy such a long view of the horizon.

Waiting for the fog to clear doesn’t feel like a very viable plan, it’s better to be moving in any direction than floating there waiting for the fog to lift. On the flip side, I’m not sure how much supplies I have to last long sailing aimlessly. I have bouts of guidance when my gut feels strongly in a certain direction, but it takes a lot more effort to make that direction stick than it usually does. Trying to spot and follow other ships has yielded mixed results, I’m oftem not sure they’re heading to the same destination as I.

Good night moon.



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Social Dining

February 5th, 2015 Posted in College, Life, Personal, Problems, Work | No Comments »

One of the things I’ve always struggled with is eating meals in a social setting.  For many people grabbing lunch or going out to a dinner with coworkers is a pleasant break from the work environment and conversations, a more neutral setting where everyone can relax and intermingle a bit.  For me, eating meals in these settings exercises a set of my underdeveloped skills and generally makes me super stressed out.  I’d rather be under a timer trying to solve a very challenging technical problem.

When it comes to the selection of a location to eat I always feel pretty handicapped only knowing a handful of locations to eat.  I’m also a fairly picky eater but a very non-confrontational person which leads to this very strange evaluation I perform between suggesting I’m not comfortable with the food at a place and trying to identify the item I’m most likely able to appear to have eaten on a menu. In my work environment, when people go out for food it tends to upper scale restaurants which are less likely to serve some of the simpler staple dishes I can often bank on.  Instead, the menu is filled with things I’ve never heard of and it’s awkward to start googling for items and ingredients to see what they might look like.

Unlike most people, I don’t enjoy particularly complicated dishes with intriguing tastes or complex flavors.  There’s a relatively short list of things I’ll eat with no questions asked.  Beyond that I evaluate how far a dish appears to deviate from something I’m familiar with.  As an example, veal parmigiana is a short hop away from chicken parmigiana so it’s probably safe but veal marsala is a bit too many hops to be acceptable.  Most people seem to read menus looking for the dish they think will be the most enjoyable or satisfy some taste / craving, for me I’m reading the menu trying to figure out what’s going to cause me the least trouble to eat.

Aside from the food itself, conversation is a key component of dining in social settings which is an area I’m very inexperienced with.  Ramping up in college, young adults tend to eat meals with social acquaintances on a regular basis which provides a valuable opportunity to develop conversational skills.  For various reasons I didn’t really do that in college, I can probably count on my fingers the number of meals I ate with friends during my last 3 years @ RPI (insufficient data on first 2 years).  It usually didn’t bother me to be eating alone, but looking back I recognize I was missing out on an opportunity to develop some useful life skills.

At the table, this translates to awkward responses to questions that often don’t do a good job carrying conversation.  “What do you do most weekends?” will get a one word answer “work”, when I should really expand on that to describe the different projects I’m working on… or pretend to have done something more exciting.  I have to expend a lot of effort when I try to be social when it seems to come much more naturally for others, or at least it appears that way.  Any social skills I do have tend to be thrown off balance by the food / menu evaluation stage; by the time I’ve concluded that process I’ve often built up enough anxiety or self-doubt that sitting silently is the best way to recharge my risk taking batteries.

I recognize it would be good to improve but the diversity of foods I eat and my social capabilities while doing so, but I’ve created an environment for myself which perpetuates the status quo. At some point I should probably work on improving this, but doing so in a low-risk fashion feels like a significant amount of effort, perhaps something to solve tomorrow.

Goodnight moon


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