Weeks 9, 10, 11 at Recurse Center23 Jun 2018
Where did I go? As mentioned in the last post, I definitely started to fall off the blogging wagon in this last quarter of Recurse Center, which (after a lot of reflection have concluded) is for a few reasons, and here they are:
(As I mentioned last time) my brain feels very very full. I am still lamenting this a lot; I began to have a lot of fatigue from the constant learning and pushing myself. I fully started off in sprinting mode and kept pushing myself, and eventually I started to wear myself out from that enthusiasm. Also, I have been learning a lot of things all over the place and it became hard to stick with one thing and see it through because there are so many paths I’m interested in following. But I’m glad RC has given me the opportunity to learn about what to learn next for the foreseeable future.
Most of my desire around writing code isn’t the pure joy of programming (although sometimes it is) but rather having an idea that I want to see come into fruition, and programming is a tool with which to make that happen. With that ethos as a fundamental initiator, running out of inspiration and creativity meant running out of a desire to write code.
People! RC is full a great people, and the closer I become with everyone here, the more (welcomed) interruptions I face in my day-to-day life. But these interruptions can make it hard to focus and produce any one particular thing, because I enjoy being around everyone here and know our time together is limited and I want to prioritize that time. With that being said, I’ve also been a lot less social than I was during the first half of my batch, which I regret a little bit but accept as a person who is fundamentally introverted. I’ve also started to get up early and aim to get focused work done before coming into RC, because the summer camp vibes are really ramping up as my batch approaches our last week. Time is just moving in a different way.
Job-based stress. A lot of other people here are ramping up their jobs search, and that associative stress was additive to my own. Should I be practicing data structures and algorithms? Should I be focused on learning a neutral language for interviewing? Then I would get resentful: Shouldn’t I be not focusing on job stuff right now? And how do I focus when what I want is not what other people want?
General stress. I was having a lot of stress associated with trying to figure out what I wanted, especially since a lot of the weight I put on this programming retreat was based around sorting all of that out. “What makes me happy?” is a heavy question to ask oneself, and even more to expect an answer, and the looming end of RC without a definitive answer to that question was stressing me out a lot.
To embellish on the last two topics: Well, what have I been doing? I’ve been trying to do what makes me happy and following that, although waffling around a bit since I’ve been feeling a bit tired-and-uninspired in terms of building new things.
But what makes me happy?
I spent a lot of last week working in-and-with QCTools, reading up on shaders, setting up Python environments, switching from
fish, reading about interchange formats and raw data, and sort of generally/genuinely doing all the things that I was doing before RC in my recreational time. I fought against this a lot because I was trying to not work on things that are job-adjacent, but it turns out what I do for a living is what makes me happy. Which was also causing a lot of stress, because as people interested in digital preservation and archives know, it is hard to do this for a living, and there are many more qualified people than there are positions, especially positions that are not low-pay and temporary – but that’s a different post altogether.
It’s one of those things where it’s an epiphany that I have been doing what makes me happy all along, and I’m super grateful that I get to continue doing that, but it’s kind of an anticlimactic end to such a robust adventure: “To be happy and feel fulfilled in my life, just … keep doing what I’ve been doing???!” is less exciting than “explore this newfound obsession with RUST” or whatever.
It’s good to feel this way, even if it’s also strange to feel this way: “Am I really just itching to go back to work?”
But even still: Can’t wait to see what my final week holds!