Hey friends! I tend to write really structured updates and the temptation to do that this time is totally there! Instead I’m just going to write about what’s on my mind and fill in the details where I can.
Work Work Work
Work blows. I’ve been a Scrum Master since last August and it’s on par with the terrible internship I had with Orange County back in the day. Lots of theoretical responsibility and a bunch of people too disillusioned and/or busy to really care about Scrum, Agile, technical quality, or me. Most days I have literally nothing to do. I’ve filled the vacuum by taking on large, team-wide server and database migration projects, team satisfaction surveys, trying to keep on top of strategy and momentum, but it all just screeches to a halt the second I have to rely on anyone outside of my office. It’s depressing as hell and leaves me feeling like a useless member of the team (and questioning my own value). Even worse, gaslighting in the form of “we’re all doing a great job” and “Scrum is so important to our success” makes me feel like I don’t even know what reality I’m in half the time.
You’d think having all this “free” time would be a godsend for me, but the cognitive dissonance is not something I’ve shown any aptitude in handling. I’m at work to do work stuff and I go home to do my stuff and I just don’t know how to flop those two. I’ve tried to take advantage of the downtime in a lot of ways: hiking (mostly successful until the heat kicked on), reading, writing (hello!), a video project (incredibly fulfilling and fun until it got down to editing 500+ clips together), working on therapy homework (pretty difficult to do in a work mindset), and most recently, playing my Switch. It works sometimes, but most of the time the feelings of loneliness, inadequacy, and worthlessness kind of push out any room for motivation or enjoyment. And there’s always that chance I could be needed or work could crop up—just enough to leave me paranoid and checking Teams / email every five minutes.
I hope it’s clear that it’s not a good time for me! I can’t complain about being paid semi-well, having vacation and getting health insurance, but this can’t be what my life amounts to.
I was on my way out the door at the end of spring: an updated website and resume, discussions with friends about possible jobs and cities, even a brokered FaceTime call with an Apple employee. Then my former supervisor (now peer) put in her two-weeks notice. Hmm. What would it take to keep me in this morass of endless IT restructuring? I drafted an email to my boss asking for my former coworker’s job, a decent pay raise, and a defunding of my useless position. My supervisor agreed but (because HR) I have to apply (done), wait for the position to close (Friday), and be processed as any other candidate. There’s not a huge chance my ask will be met but it’s worth one last attempt before moving on.
In the interim, I’m trying to focus on accepting that reality and embracing it: meditation, video games, relaxing, lots of sleep, exercise, and no (more) big projects.
The other piece of this whole “moving on” from the last decade of Central Florida is: what to do about the ol’ house. In the next five years it’s going to need some work (roof, AC) but for now it’s pretty solid. If we plan to move on within the next few years, now is the time.
It just so happens that a close friend’s lease is running out soon and he needs a new place, and that friend might have just put in an offer on a decent house in Deltona and that offer might have been accepted. The plan now, assuming nothing falls through, is:
- Help friend close on this house purchase and move out of rental
- Start moving stuff to this new house and clean our house for listing
- List our house in July and try to sell it before the end of the selling season
- Move into new house temporarily and help fix up stuff for less rent
I have often talked about needing to see some kind of opportunity to move forward with relocation plans and having the willpower to act on it when it shows up, and I think we’re at that point. It will be sad to move out of the house we’ve cared for over the last six years, but the sooner we do, the sooner we can start our next adventure. Even better, it’s got me focused, given me a huge to-do list, and will keep me busy and excited for the months to come. And even if my targets are hit at work for this new role, the longer drive and distance from the UCF area will incentivize me to keep work and home separate, practice working remotely more, and keep me on a trajectory out of here.
I realize this conflicts a bit with the whole “relax and chill” vibe I’m searching for while I wait for stuff to churn at work, but the next few weeks will just be waiting for the new house to close, so it’ll be a good balance and (should be) a slow rise in activity.
Of course this is all in the shadow of a ludicrous world of looming elections, rumors of war, and the anxiety/troubles I’ve been working through for the past year. For those that don’t know, I developed a bit of targeted OCD in April of 2018, largely (I think) from the negative bend of the world lately and my lack of direction at home and at work. I’m working very hard to correct this when I can but the complication of life and the general impossibility of relating the experience has left me in a pretty constant state of alertness for a bit now.
Up-ending my life at work and at home is terrifying. Work gives me all of my structure and way too much of my self-worth for comfort, and risking losing that in the midst of all this mental turmoil is beyond terrifying. I come home some days and I find myself staying in my dress shirt and slacks, unwilling to physically transition from got-it-together work mode to floundering, unsure-of-himself, how-does-relaxing-work home mode. Sometimes this sentiment keeps me at work, or at least out and about, pushing that “home mode” off as long as I can. Home isn’t very “productive” so it’s less comfortable, while being busy, being outside, walking, eating, talking…I guess being “productive” is. Even when I try to catch up on my gaming backlog, it quickly turns into a productivity exercise: how many games can I play this week/month? Sitting in that unproductive, self-care-for-self-care’s-sake space is terrifying. My mind wants that empty space filled with productivity. I think this is why most people have kids, if I had to guess.
Taking away the comfort and clear productivity/structure of work is scary. But I’m doing it anyway, because that’s the only way through and it’s my only shot.
When the bad days roll around, or the bad times break into the streak of good, I find myself hanging onto those negative emotions longer than I should. Even though I’ve read plenty about the benefits of positivity and hate how I feel when I’m negative, moving on and letting go of those negative emotions feels like a lost opportunity to understand and learn from them. When work makes me feel like shit and I go home depressed, I know I shouldn’t let those feelings dictate my night, but I don’t want to lose the opportunity they may afford me to think outside my routine and make drastic or strong changes in my life. Going to bed early to sleep it off feels like it just perpetuates the cycle that started the negativity in the first place. I know this isn’t true, that I can make positive changes any time, but there’s some temptation to not let go of it, to harness it somehow.
I’m introverted and have an obsessive disposition, and I’ve always kept it at bay by limiting the scope of what I focus on. This leads to a lot of isolation / small hangouts and away from groups / parties, but I’ve enjoyed that for most of my life. So it’s a shame that so many ways to stay in touch are moving to models where constant interaction, notifications and checking are essentially mandatory.
I find that if I want to stay connected to people I care about and communities I identify with, there are very few (if any) ways to do that that don’t leave me checking in constantly. I’ve had a really hard time striking a good balance with Twitter, Discord, group chats…even at work, the introduction of Slack and Teams has made it feel impossible to stay focused or keep my head out of that world outside of business hours.
The only effective way I’ve been able to deal has been to withdraw completely by deleting the apps from my phone and being very intentional about usage on other devices, but it’s a big loss when most people don’t feel the sting of obsession when they interact on these platforms. Lately I’ve noticed that even good connections I feel with others are betrayed by the pull of group communication over private, personal messaging and relationship-building. I feel like I’m having to choose between a constant anxiety or a growing loneliness, and it’s making me resentful of enthusiastic attention-seekers in these open arenas that don’t seem to feel any negative effects from dominating the conversation and elevating other active, loud participants.
I get the same vibe around entitled parents, mobile speakers in public, loud cars…it’s this disgust for inconsiderate aloofness on top of an inability to ignore the stimulus. There don’t seem to be any consequences for it because it doesn’t bother the majority enough. Just “dealing with it” feels almost physiologically impossible to me, and it’s starting to feel that way for social media too.
I know I’m not entitled to a world that caters to me and my preferences. I just wish there was more empathy out there for those of us that can’t be inundated by stimuli and can’t resist the temptation to constantly obsess over catching up and still participate in a healthy way.
Despite all this worrying and over-analyzation, there’s tons of stuff that’s been rad in my life in the last little bit!
- I finally deflowered my MacBook (see above)! I carefully selected a stack of stickers from FWA’s dealers and artists and was all mostly-perfectionist about it, of course, but I’m really glad I pushed through the fear of being happy to represent what I like and what makes me happy.
- Tons of new games! Cadence of Hyrule is super rad thus far (if not a steep initial learning curve). I just finished Gato Roboto (a fun three hours) and I’m finally getting around to The Messenger. I picked up Super Mario Maker 2 this weekend and already resurrected the simple idea of a cliff-side castle. Rob and I are trying to find time to keep plugging away at Outer Wilds… it’s just a fantastic time to be into gaming, even without a single, traditional AAA release.
- My AI-assigned fitness goal for June was “burning 20500 calories,” and I completed it around 11:30pm on June 30th walking around the neighborhood. It’s amazing what you can do when even the smallest, realistic push is there. Sure I called off work one day and rode 27 miles on my bike from Winter Springs to Lake Mary and back, but it’s all calories baby.
- SGDQ 2019 came and went and once again was a blast to watch! Ordered far too many t-shirts.
- Still really enjoying opportunities to budget calories for good food and walking with friends and family around town before and after. I feel like I’ve found a good balance there and it anchors me a bit in the bad times.
Parting Thoughts of the Moment™️
- Passion is the only thing that matters. Everyone can see it and everyone that matters appreciates it. A single passionate person can outperform a team of six disaffected people—and once you’ve seen this happen, how do you work with them in good faith anymore? If it isn’t encouraged or rewarded where you work, get out of there as fast as you can.
- “A lack of authenticity” is the reason I dislike social media and interactions with my coworkers. I think I’m coming to find being genuine, open and empathetic is all that matters to me.
- It’s crazy how invisible you are to acquaintances and coworkers if you aren’t on Facebook.
Until next time! My video project will be done in the next few days, so see you all again soon! 🐾