A blog that needs work

In Over Your Head

As you may know, the last couple weeks have been hectic, to say the least. The combination of different stresses from work and hotel shenanigans really got me down.

For the first time, in a very long time, I felt in over my head.

I think grumpy cat has something to say about that:

First off, notice the past tense? I felt in over my head. I am no longer feeling that way because I'm over it. Over the course of the last weekend, I had the chance to attend Anime North, which is often an uplifting experience to me, as I may have mentioned. The newfound optimism from the trip has given me the opportunity to re-examine what that 'in over my head' feeling really means.

It means knowing and overcoming your limits

I'm not saying that what I've experienced is the furthest I've been stretched, nor the worst I am likely to face (I fully expect things to get worse in the short term), but what happened taught me a valuable lesson in what I am capable of. Working late nights, early mornings, weekends, sure, that will do in the short term, but on week three of get this project done I was definitely feeling it, and by that I mean I've only really recovered just now.

Despite what a pain it was, I learned about my breaking point, my point where returns diminish dramatically. I also learned how long it takes me to recover. I also learned a lot about how much stress I can take and how hard it is to balance work and other aspects of live, but knowing what I know now, I'm better equipped for future incidents.

It means making mistakes, and learning from them

"There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don't know." -- Donald Rumsfeld

There's plenty that I know that I don't know; those mistakes are to be expected (e.g. I know I need to do caching properly, but that doesn't I know how to do it properly) but there's also a lot that I didn't know I didn't know (continuing in the parlance of the quote). I leaned on my team members, as I had to in order to get the project done, and I didn't know that the team member wouldn't work out and would ultimately need to be let go; Can't say that I saw that coming. I also forgot a lot about how our system is set up, and consequently, had to relearn a lot.

Being in over my head meant I needed to learn to really take charge and be on top of things in a way that was never really necessary previously. It meant I had to make some tough choices and be able to live with them. Also, if you don't make mistakes and aren't under some pressure, how are you to learn and progress?

It means knowing that you're awesome

Being under pressure means that you're awesome. Why? Because people are depending on you. That means that you provide some vital service that (presumably) only you can provide. If you can deal with that pressure and fear of failure, then you've come out on the other side stronger and more prepared than before. Heck, even if you're being held under and fight for air, just surviving is something.

And, I mean, if things get too bad, being under pressure and all, they probably can't get much worse, right? Only so much shit can hit the fan.

... Probably.

The next time I'm in a bind, sure, I might not be at my best, I might not be fully prepared, I might feel pretty crappy, but that doesn't matter because being in over your head isn't the end of the world.

Nicholas Terwoord

A self-titled software developer, "code archaeologist" (whatever that means), and professional geek. Spends too much of his time coming up with new projects, and not enough time working on them. Likes video games, board games, anime, manga, and Pathfinder / Dungeons and Dragons (GOTO: Line #1 - Geek).