Category Archives: Questioning myself

Thank you. You are too kind

So. Here I sit. On the train. Typing on my traveltop; that’s my netbook, I call it that because I normally only use it when I am away on holiday. I am not on holiday today. Today I just wanted to write. I’ve been wanting to write for some time but just haven’t sat down to do it, until now.

There’s quite a lot I wanted to write about. One of the topics being my adequacy as a developer and the adequacy of myself in general. But… I mostly forgot what it was I wanted to say. I know when I originally thought it, it was stunningly profound.

Something else I wanted to write about was the duality of self, of my self. I read in Stephen King’s book, On Writing, that you should not use language that does not “fit” you. I believe I follow his advice in most cases when I write. What I’ve noticed that the words that “fit” when I write are different to the words that “fit” when I speak. I would never verbally use the word vocation but when writing, talking about my vocation feels natural. It’s interesting that my vocabulary should change depending on the medium of communication. Then again, the more I think about it, considering the little I’ve learned about brain function, it seems perfectly normal that your vocabulary should change when medium of communication changes.

I remember now what it was I wanted to say. I constantly battle with myself and my self, trying to figure out if I am good at what I do or just above average.

I have always thought of myself as being bad at things or at least not good enough. And when I do get complements, I frequently brush it off because “they don’t know what they are talking about as they are laymen” or if they do know what they are talking about, “they don’t have enough specific knowledge on the niche area of the subject that they are somehow misinformed” or even simply “just mistaken”. Take an example, being a developer, Dev Leads, Tech Leads, peers, even a few Technical Directors have told me that my skills are valuable. And the vast majority of every company I have worked for has asked me to come back and work for them again, stay on longer or asked me to come on full time. Some of those companies are even well known for having a really strict hiring policy. Somehow even after all that positive affirmation, I still don’t think I am worth my weight in salt (I wonder what I would do with 80kg [£69.34] of salt).

Anyway, I realised something the other day. I’ve always compared myself to people better than me. I’m not sure if all people do this, but with me, I only compare myself to people better than me, or at least people who I think are better than me or have a skill I want or am envious of. If someone isn’t better, they won’t feature on my personal scale of comparison. I am generalising but do you realise what that means? On my scale, I’m always worse than everyone else. If the scale was based on 1 – 10, I’m always a 1. How crazy is that shit?

I think it’s sad that this is how I choose to define myself. Now that I know about it, I think I can change this. I don’t know if this is normal. Is this normal? I don’t think it can good for the self-esteem. It does explain some aspects about myself though. For a start, it explains is how I am unable to accept a compliment: If in the past I received a complement, in my head I appreciated your kindness anyway and thanked you, almost always in an awkward way.

How do I fix this? How do you change a mindset? Is actively knowing about it and being aware enough?

Update: I saw this online today, looks like it’s a part of the human condition.

aBqoY

 

I want some of that pie

Disclaimer: This post has not been checked for grammar or spelling as it’s now 3:00 am and I wish to publish this post AND go to sleep.

Here I sit. Doing nothing. I have so many things I want to do: The comic, My Expense Manager, My Game, My Own Custom Tshirts, My Toys, My Painting…  many others.

That is just scratching the surface of what I want to do. And somehow through all that, I am supposed to become a millionaire too. Looking at that list, I don’t think those things are capable of making me money let alone a millionaire. If they can make me money, I don’t think they will make much money.

The expense manager. I have a plan to monetise that but now where near “sit on my butt for the rest of my life” kind of money. My game… some money maybe… but maybe nothing for all my hard work… it’s a gamble. It will also be my first public game. I can make a success of the expense manager as I know the web I know how to make good websites. Games.. I’ve not done before… so who knows if it will be compelling. I think that is a terrible excuse though and giving me an easy out for failure. I won’t accept it.

Anyway that is not the point of this post. This post is me having a mid life crisis. Noticing that I am still poor and everyone else around me has a house, a company that is earning, is doing some form of investment, is just financially sensible or just seems to have a more richer (in both senses of the word), fuller and sustainable lifestyle. All this is happening while I sit here playing videogames and eating baked beans with sliced vienna sausages on toast. I eat that out of choice. I can easily sustainably afford better but I like it, so that is what I do. However, eating like a poor student is somehow making me feel like I am poor than probably I should. I guess you are what you eat is truer than I originally thought. Also, If I am being honest, I only play videogames some of the time… I play a considerable amount less than I used to. That does not matter though as I have filled that free time with watching TV series or movies.

Distractions, distractions. Distractions from making provisions for my future – earning money. Not even earning money at this point, potentially earning money, I am not working for a client who will pay me, the development is for myself. Once the development is complete, I still have to find my clients and THEN ONLY, maybe get paid.

Sitting here… distracting and procrastinating (Even this post is a form of procrastination) is not doing me any good. Especially since I pit myself against those who in my eyes who are already successful and in turn I model my success on their image. Or those who already have established businesses, who already have a piece of that pie. That pie, that pie that seems to be just outside my reach. No matter how hard I try as I move closer it moves away forever staying just within an inch of my reach.

Reach for the Pie - One of the worst puns... ever.

One thing I can admit to is, it’s all my fault but sometimes I have no idea if the steps I am taking to fix it are the right ones.

I also accept full blame for the terrible visual pun in the picture too.

On expectation, but not really

I am trying to figure out if having expectations of something is a good thing. Doing something and having an expectation of how it is going to be can really detract from the enjoyment of the experience. For me the most common form of this is watching movies trailers. A lot of trailers have spoiled movies for me. They either hype the movie up into something it’s not, or they show all the good bits making you expect more good bits when you do actually watch it, only to find you’ve seen them all.

Heh… the word trailers made me think back to my youth when I first used that word. I remember back in the day my family used to call them shorts. The shorts. “Do you want to fast forward past the shorts?”, I would ask. It’s interesting to notice how and why vocabularies change. I have lived a life where I frequently needed to cross the boundaries of vocabularies. By vocabularies I mean slang, colloquialisms or more generally a subset of words. I stayed in a coloured area and probably had only coloured friends at the time. At about 9 years of age I went to a white school. Not sure if “white school” was the correct terminology for it at the time. I don’t really know what the history of the school was up till that point. Perhaps private school is better. A private school with 99.9% of the children being white. A boarding school. Myself and the kids there pretty much got on like a house on fire. So as one does when one becomes part of any group, I picked up a lot of terminology, or slang. I also picked up some nuances of pronunciation as well as an accent.

I find it interesting that the words I picked up and used was conscious process. It’s also interesting to note that I could have attempted to introduce the other kids to the words I grew up with but rather chose to replace those words for their local counterparts or even omit them from interactions altogether. Right at the beginning when all these colloquialisms were new to me, I would incorporate words that would ease communication or prevent me from having to explain what I meant if I had used my own word.

The other interesting thing was that I found nuances of pronunciation and the accent I picked up were not a conscious process. I only noticed I had one when I visited my grandmother on a holiday a year or two later. My grandmother asked me, I can’t remember the exact words but it was something like: “Why do you talk like you are white?”. As I said in the last sentence, I don’t remember the words exactly but I do remember disgust in her voice. I was taken aback. From the tone of her voice I could tell my accent displeased her and in that one comment made me feel as though there was a chance I could no longer be trusted because I no longer speak like her people. My response was, “I don’t talk like I am white?” and immediately forced myself back into rolling my Rs.

From then on I became conscious of how I spoke. It carried on this way for a long time. I’d have a different accent for school and a different accent at home. To this day actually… I still do it. Around my family I can have a different accent than what I normally do. And what’s worse is that often around coloured people, I force my coloured accent. The problem is that this isn’t how I talk anymore so I don’t get practice using the accent anymore also I never really had the opportunity to study it so I can’t even mimic it that well. If that was not bad enough I also find myself using a half forgotten, dated version of the coloured slang I knew when I was 9. So interactions in this mode feel so fake for me. I feel like every word I say is a lie. Which it is. Even though I am telling the truth, the sounds the words make when they reach my ears feel to me as if they are a lie. Anyways I am in the process of fixing this. I am in the process of merging my accents into one.

So yeah, as you can see, I got horribly distracted. My original article was meant to be on expectations. I wanted to talk about expectations because of the hot-cross buns you get in the shop. Eating them (the experience) is never as good as they smell, or half as good I remember them (the expectation). So, I may start a new quest. I may just take up baking to create a hot cross bun to rival the flavour of the ones in my memory – the perfect hot cross bun.

Happy Easter.

Different

I’m a strange person. I believe in fate but I also believe that there’s no such thing as fate. I believe that some people are lucky but I also believe people make their own luck. As far as I can tell, I modify my beliefs so that they benefit me. As an example the number 13, widely believe by the superstitious to be unlucky, just so happens to be my lucky number. In this case I modified the superstitious belief to work in my favour. It’s actually just one of my lucky numbers. I have a few: 7, 11, 13, 27, 121. I am not sure why 13 got into that list, possibly to tempt fate, or maybe just to be different.

Different. This brings me to my core topic. For a long time I was obsessed with normality and trying to be normal. At some point in my life at least 80% of the people I know have told me I am either weird, crazy or insane. I made up the 80% figure, but enough people have made mention for me to take notice. For me, the strange thing is that this usually happens when I am doing or saying something that I think to be completely ordinary. I would then ask: “What makes you say that?“. I would probably ask this so that I may learn to fit in better. To be honest, I’m not 100% sure of my motivation. I know that at times I do like it when I appear eccentric to others, so another reason could probably be the desire to be able to control my ability.

Anyways, the answer to my question: “What makes you say that?“, would normally be: “No reason, you just are.” or “… in a good way” or a combination: “No reason, you just are… in a good way“. Generally an answer is not gathered. There was the time about 2 years ago, when actually listening to what I had just said, I didn’t need an answer. In that case I had said: “Do you ever look at your hands and think: ‘Are these my hands?‘?“. In my defence, that day I looked at my hands and noticed they had aged a lot since the last time I actually last looked at my hands. They had looked like my older brothers hands. His hands are 4 years older than mine and his skin is a lighter complexion. So too was the complexion of my skin because at the time because I had been living in sunless London for a year already.

Anyhow, these experiences have shaped my personality to a large extent. Well, not my personality, just how talk to people I don’t yet know. I am very restrained. Often I will not say anything for fear of what I might say and how it will be recieved. Also it’s probably affected what and how I say things to the people I do know. But I know that everyone says different things to different people, so that’s nothing to be concerned about. So yeah, it’s made me not say or not do things I might normally have said or done. But, the thing is… how do I know what the normal way to behave is? How does anyone? Yes, there are societal norms. For example not flinging your shit at people. This societal boundary that most people know it exists. And I, like most people, am aware of it. It’s also worth noting that I have no conscious desire to cross this boundary.

The same goes for other societal norms. I know my eccentricities are well within the societal boundaries I know to exist, so what do I have to fear? Surely the concept of normal is not only a societal one but also an individual one? How would anyone know what they would normally do if I they have not previously behaved in that way? Surely the way they are at that point is their normal state? Surely this is the individual normality I mentioned.

Anyhow, from this I’ve learned that there is probably no such thing normality with reference to living your life. I’ve given up on this quest. This is probably a good thing if only to conserve future wasted effort. Rather I have embraced the eccentricities I may have and now relish in the fact that I see things differently to other people. I’m at the stage where I accept that and am now learning to use it to my advantage.

The ideas of eccentricity and using it to my advantage could potentially lead me to another post I want to write entitled: Delusions of Grandeur. However it is almost 23:00 and nearly time for me to go to bed.

Good night.

Goal Orientated Thinking

It’s quite strange. Recently I have been finding a lot of things to be a chore. Things that should not be a chore have somehow become a chore. Reading for example. I have a book that I bought… two actually, Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion and a book called the myths of innovation. I bought both of those books because I want to read them. Now that I have them I feel I have to sit down with them and read them. It must be done, I see it as something that I just need to get through. Like something I just need to tick off a list. Same with video and movies that I have. I feel I need to get throught it. It must be done. The TED talks for an example. I’m subscribed up to the TED podcast. I find a lot of interesting talks on there. Almost all of talk I have watched are thought provoking. Knowledge-wise I am richer having watched it… but yet, I find it a chore to sit down and watch them. I feel the need to watch them. It as though my life is some kind of shopping list.

Gerard’s Life:

  • Go to School
  • Get a Degree
  • Get a Job
  • Get a Girlfriend
  • Start an online service
  • Become really successful
  • Profit

Then everyday is a checklist too:

  • Wake up
  • Shower
  • Brush your teeth
  • Pee in the shower
  • Use housemate’s shampoo
  • Get dressed
  • Buy coffee and a muffin
  • Buy lunch
  • Pick up news paper
  • Skim read news paper
  • Read Star Signs
  • Get off train
  • Have a cigarette
  • Take a taxi to the office

I just noticed that I have two problems as opposed to only the one I thought I had. The one I just noticed being bigger than the original one of seeing much of life as a set of tasks with a tick box next to it. The second problem being that nothing on my day to day checklist puts me any closer to my life goals.

I usually stop writing when I come to a realisation about my behaviour or realise how I can fix something. I have already reached a realisation. I always thought something will happen and TADAA… I am now successful! But looking that the discrepancy between the two lists, I realise now nothing will get done unless I actually work towards it. It’s a simple concept I know.  I have always known this concept to be true, but now I actually understand what it means. I think I assumed that you would automatically work towards your goals and things you wanted badly enough. Looking at the two lists, this does not necessarily hold true. Nothing on my daily list is getting me any closer to my life list.

If the last few posts are a trend, there seems to be a common theme among my realisations – I know a lot of stuff to be true and live my life by them but I don’t understand them fully. That is until I take the time to actually think about them.

So I want to stop here even though I have not addressed the problem of seeing life as a task list. Which I think is a bigger problem and one that requires a level of thought and understanding which I have no idea about. I will have to come back to it.