anxiety Posts

Documentation for Life

by phildini on August 25, 2018

As I started writing this post, I got blocked by the dang title. I couldn't think up one, and so I started writing in the hope that one would come to me. 

It'e been a long time since anything was published to this blog. It's not that I haven't been writing; if anything my volume of prose has gone up dramatically in the past year as I've started pushing for more and more documentation on the teams I work in and the projects I lead.

I think there's three reasons nothing has been published here in the past year.

For starters, there's an infinite bikeshed of possibility in running your own blog, powered by software you maintain. See something you want to fix? The bottomless rabbit hole is there, ready and waiting for you to fix it. It becomes nearly impossibly hard to resist the siren song of everything you want to do in code to make the blog better, forgetting of course that the point of the blog is the content, not the chrome.

Secondly, Dunning-Kruger. I'm past the hump of thinking I know anything at all about the subjects I want to talk about, but don't have the confidence to believe that my observations are valid. This position is, thankfully, changing: I'm starting to get some validation through my work at Patreon and with technical organizations that my experience and opinions are valuable, and worth adding to the collective conversation.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, today especially, is that my my own brain chemistry is acting against my best interests at the moment. There is quite a lot from the last six years of my life that I'm processing, and trying to heal, and covering on a regular basis in therapy. I am out of "fighting for survival" mode, and my brain is taking the break in constant survival stress to raise issues that I need to deal with, and which come with their own flavors of toxic brain chemistry.

So, what do? As I was writing this, and talked above about the fact that my prose output has actually increased, I had the realization that I value documentation to an obsessive degree, and that taking the posts in this blog as attempts at "documenting my life, and the experiences I have in it" might get me around some of those blocks posted above.

We'll see how it goes, wish me luck.



by phildini on May 13, 2016

Originally, I was going to start this post with:

Humans have a tendency to over-attribute our own importance.

But then I realized by starting the post that way, I was being incredibly guilty of the very thing I was saying. I mean, read that sentence again. I was getting ready to start a blog post by pretending to speak for all of humanity. That's like god-level delusions of self-importance there. So. Let's try one more time.

I have a tendency to over-attribute my own importance. This manifests itself most often in thinking that the way people act around me has something to do with me. I'll meet a friend on the street, or have an interaction with someone at work, and if it doesn't go the way I'm planning, or they seem upset, the conclusion I'll immediately jump to is that I did something wrong, or that they don't like me. On the one hand, this seems like a form of social anxiety, that I'm trying to please all the people around me in an attempt to make and keep friends. And I'm not saying I don't have that going on, and it's a struggle that's being fought in my head a whole lot of the time, but let's take a step back. 

How egotistical do I have to be to start by thinking that I am the sole driver of how someone else behaves?

It is totally possible that I am doing something or saying something to cause these weird social interactions, but in order to be fair, to treat the other person as a f%&$ing human being with some measure of agency in their own lives, I need to allow that at least fifty percent of their reaction to any given situation comes from what's going on in their heads, and has nothing to do with me at all. I say "everyone is the hero in their own story" so often that it's almost a damn catchphrase, but when it comes to dealing with the people in my own life I rarely stop to think through what that means.

If I am doing my best to be a decent human being, and treating the people around with me respect, then whether or not any given interaction goes well is basically out of my control. I should, we all should, be trying to treat other people with a baseline of respect, and not attributing to malice that which can be described by ignorance (excepting blatant -isms. F--- you HB2!), but I should also remember the flip side: Sometimes people have bad days, or don't like me, and that's not always my fault or under my control.

To think otherwise is pure ego.

Looping back to how I was going to start this post, I think I'm not the only one who has trouble with this. A theme among people I talk to, especially people who live on the internet, is that they attribute good social interactions to the other person, and take all the blame for the bad interactions on themselves. That is self-loathing, and self-importance, and I hope I can remember to do better should we ever meet (again).

tl;dr: I should examine my words and actions to make sure they meet my own standards, and remember that people are entitled to their own lives and reactions.