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.