Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Imposter Syndrome

I like this post. Its well constructed, short and punchy and speaks on a topic that resonates with me (and some other people I can think of). In the contextual abstract its a beautiful post. (Although the first post in the comments is a total fanboy tag) anyhoo... as for the actual content, its slightly disturbing. I would suggest that while I identify with the Imposter Syndrome, in reality I would probably conclude that not only have I been there but I have taken the escape hatch route. I did not go to the happy place, I have gone to the safe place.

This line of thought becomes a complicated tangle of self doubt, supposed objective analysis, excuses, rationalisations and unfulfilled dreams until reality crashes in, gets dismissed as excuses, exits stage left in a huff and proceeds to play devils advocate from the wings dressed in the guise of a "Gandalf-ian" old wise man getup. 

Am I confusing the pressure of unreasonable expectations and workload with the fear of failure/discovery issues that were discussed in the post? Perhaps

Am I pushing myself to learn new things or am I cruising at a safe altitude? Nope. New things every damn day.

Am I building something bigger than myself? Nope. Its just a job that will exist long after I have gone.

Am I endlessly passionate about what I am doing? Bits of it. A great deal is politics and ephemeral bullshit... but I find value in it all. It stretches me in other ways that are not always comfortable or pleasant... so I would phrase it as: "Its a challenge every day".

On the topic of being in a safe place vs on the scary bleeding edge... I think as a parent and provider for children, the safety and security aspects trump the bleeding edge thrill stuff.  Its irresponsible to expose your children to risk and stress. Full stop. There is no "but..." arguments after this point. I can think up any number of rationalisations and guilt trips about how I'm wasting my talent etc but its not about me and I accept that I may look like a cop-out, or I'm hiding behind my children so I don't have to play with the big boys... but providing a safe and low stress environment for the children comes first, second and third otherwise I'm a failure as a parent. So while every guilt trip still lands and hurts, I suck it up and do what I know is the right thing. I find ways to enjoy a job that is not thrilling every minute of the day, I humbly accept pay that is far from the bracket that I was aiming at, I disappoint the dreams of various people who are looking for "great things" from me ( or great money...), I trade all this for a reliable pay packet, a quiet neighborhood with trees and dogs and schools and beaches where my children can grow up and learn without having to worry about all the other stuff.

Do I still dream? Is the hungry urge to beat the world at something still there? Do I still want to do amazing things and create fantastic tools that I can just about see how to do? Hell yessssss! But I take care of business first.  Walk carefully through the minefield. Make safe choices, reduce risk, manage money, balance the budget, keep the cart on the tracks, put one foot after another, ignore temptation, be the money cop, ignore opportunities, stay focused, play the long game, avoid regular fixed costs, reduce debit, stay with what you know, save for a rainy day, don't explore shady service providers(phone companies, banks, internet providers etc),  be the dull dependable safe sunscreen wearing boring person that puts food on the table, a roof over their heads and endless stimulation in their minds.

Oh and don't ride motorbikes. I miss my bike every day. Its was 300kg of big, black crazy risk taking behavior. It reminds me not only of what I have given up but inversly what I have given it up for. Better than a tattoo because the pain does not fade. (even for a huge battle cruiser, it could hit 180kmh at red line in 5th... so I hear)

Now I have the thrill of debugging spreadsheets and labeling equipment.... no comparison really.

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