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Weeknotes S04E10: What matters to you?

This week has been great. Still, I’m feeling restless. Let’s try to get to the bottom of that.

What happened this week?

I had to take Monday off as insomnia kept me awake until 4.30am. Looking back through my notes I notice that the same thing happened about 12 weeks ago. Am I more anxious than I think?1Probably

On Tuesday I settled in with my new old team. Over the course of this week I’ve picked up a couple of small tickets and managed to get both of them done quickly, which I’m pleased about because it helps me feel like I’m contributing. I’ve noticed a couple of changes in the way I’m approaching the work since last time: I feel more centred and more thoughtful. I’m more willing to search through the codebase before asking someone to answer my question. Despite only coding one day a week for the past quarter, I still feel more settled than I did when I joined the team fresh off GOV.UK. I think building my own thing has given me a much greater, deeper understanding of the language.

John Cleese bashes a parrot on a table while Eric Idle watches in a sketch by Monty Python
Fun fact: the Dead Parrot sketch has aged better than John Cleese

With that being said, I have been looking around for a new job recently. A recent break up coupled with the fact that 30 is sneaking up on me is making me reconsider where I want to be in the future and what I’ll need to get there.

I find interviews a really interesting way to test some of my own assumptions and reveal things I didn’t know about myself. I discover how much I value one thing over another: for example, I discovered recently that basic politeness is something that I value above all else.2Boy, I hope this extremely low bar doesn’t trip me up in the future I’m also not as driven as I think I was – at least, in terms of my career. The other way of looking at 30 is that I’ve still got 40 years of work ahead of me, yet already I’m purposefully seeking out roles that pay enough for me to work four days a week (or even three). I like work where I’m solving interesting problems, but there are plenty of interesting problems that I can’t solve in work. For example: how, exactly, does one play a musical instrument?

It’s interesting. It reminds me a little of solving math problems – as your salary approaches infinity, what is the corresponding number of days you would work? And for me, it’s probably 0. My ideal “job” is freelance problem solver, where I have independent means and total autonomy to fix things.

Oh no.

My ideal job is Sherlock Holmes.

Benedict Cumberbatch, playing Sherlock Holmes, taps his fingers together
Oh Bumbletoe Quandersniff

My mentees are progressing well. Someone else asked me to help them with coding and I know I should say no because I’m stretched too thin. I am bad at saying no.

One of my mentees recently pushed back on some of the work I gave her because it’s too hard. I’m really proud of her for doing that and I’m trying to think around a problem to find for her so that she can continue getting the “working on a real thing and getting real feedback and collaborating” part of learning without the total panic of having no idea what you’re doing.

Andy Dwyer, a character from Parks and Rec, says "I have no idea what I'm doing, but I know I'm doing it really really well"
This is how I learned to code and I’m not convinced it’s the right way. I think being white and male helps with the imposter syndrome

The flat is getting closer. My completion date hasn’t moved in several weeks now and my hopes are rising that in September I will be the proud owner of 5% of a flat in Essex and hundreds of thousands of pounds of debt. I understand this is what it means to be a grown-up, so I have done a graph to show off how exciting this is.

A graph showing my net worth is more than negative £250,000
*Internal screaming intensifies*

“Now don’t be facetious,” I hear you say. “You also own a flat. That would balance out the debt. You’re practically breaking even. You’re buying a property before you’re 30. Do you know how many people in London would tear off their own arm and beat you to death with it just for the opportunity to do that? This kind of backdoor self-congratulation is revolting.”

And, listen. I hear you. I’m a massively over-privileged straight-passing white guy whose family had the money to give me a good accent, which in England is all you really need to get ahead.

This gif of Bendybus Quafflehoop is probably not relevant

But the bit doesn’t work if we think about that.

Separately, but a little connected: I’m currently reading Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race and I can’t recommend it enough. Get it immediately. It’s an absolutely astonishing read.

That’s all I’ve got this week. Thank you for reading and, to the spambot that keeps commenting on my blog, thank you for reminding me that almost all tech is low-level evil. Cheers spambot.

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