Tagged as professional, pandemic, haltandcatchfire
Written on 2021-03-07 22:15:00
It's been a year and I'm still thinking about Halt and Catch Fire. I haven't started my 3rd rewatch but it'll probably happen soon. I wrote a bunch of toots about it recently but it may not capture how I feel as well as this infovore article.
The reality is, I love the show because it's about people learning to have healthy relationships with work and to love themselves. I tend to form great bonds with coworkers but my relationship with the work itself and my ability to love myself is just damned fraught.
I feel unbelievably drained lately. I'm in a weird place at Calendly where I'm sort of in between being an IC and a Manager. I'm convinced I'm doing less work than ever while receiving good reviews and "Top Performer" recognition. I just find it insanely hard to praise myself. I've thought a lot about it and one reason I've struggled so much (and sought a Team Lead position) is that I don't know how to praise myself for writing software.
I had to think really hard about that to realize that I don't like much software. People use computers in all these ways that just don't make sense to me. The software I get the most excited about is small and personal. An emacs configuration. A 1000 line blog engine in Lisp. A handcrafted website conveying intimacy and joy.
It's okay that professional software isn't about that. But I have a very hard time figuring out what the "best way" to architect large systems is because I don't want them to exist in the first place. I can speak up when I see an obvious way to improve what we deliver but I actively avoid ownership because it's not the software I want to see in the world. Or at least that I want to use.
That's left me in a tough place trying to figure out what I want to do next professionally but it's been an important step. Maybe moving to a more managerial side will be good. I'm also aware that I am much more able to praise myself for my efforts as a teacher than as an engineer. Teaching is, in many ways, more congruent with my values. For better or worse, teaching examples are usually small applications that can eschew most of the thorny aspects of production software.
It also hasn't helped that I've struggled to commit to hobby coding. I've struggled with depression a lot throughout the pandemic. I get a ton of my energy from my sense of community and sharing experiences with close friends. It's been very difficult to keep a good perspective stuck in the house all the time. I'm also aware that coding all day has taken a lot of the desire to joyfully explore a computer in the evenings away from me even if I did have collaborators handy. I turned a hobby into a career and I definitely have some regrets about it lately.
One thing I have enjoyed in the last few years is listening to a lot of electronic music and starting to dabble with synthesizers myself. With Norma and I both working from home though, the former pseudo-studio space has become a home office. We started remodeling the garage to be a hobby/office space last November, but that work still isn't done.
So here I am. Coming up on the 12 year anniversary of Dad's death, the 10 year anniversary of my entry into the workforce, and my 35th birthday. I'm having a hard time forming healthy habits for managing my stress and not sure what I want to do next. I don't feel I can complain because, well, I'm extremely well off! Calendly is doing well and treating me quite well, I'm safe and at home, in a supportive relationship, my family and friends are safe.
And yet, the urge to pull the plug and change my circumstances is so powerful. I might consider it if only I was certain about what I thought should come next.