Blog

Short blog posts, journal entries, and random thoughts. Topics include a mix of personal and the world at large. 

My brother graduates from college

Yesterday my brother who is 10 years my junior graduated from university, so you can say I’m particularly feeling my age today. Despite my in-jest adverse feelings, I am supremely happy not only for my brother, but for my parents as well: both their sons are now fully adult, and their sacrifice in raising us is at a symbolic and tangible conclusion.

Next step for them is probably retirement soon, so they can do a bit of traveling. Us millennials aren’t the only ones affected by social media and its related ‘fear of missing out’ pangs: my parents get it as well. A lot of my uncles and aunts have retired already, and they spent their leisure time traveling within China and around world. The pictures from those trips gets uploaded to social media, and from viewing them my mom particularly gets low-key jealous of those opportunities.

Now that my brother is finally finished with school, likely forever, I think my parents have more freedom to retire early, should they choose. It’s definitely a decision to think over properly, because the “grass is greener” effect is strong; traveling is immensely rewarding and fun, yes, but what about the rest of the time when there’s nothing to do - no work to go to? I think that’s something to visualize and plan out before taking the step to retire, because being home all the time may not be as ideal as imagined.

But that’s for my parents to figure out. As for my brother, his unfortunate selection of sociology as a major means it’s going to be tough for him to find a solid-paying job. The real-world application for a sociology degree seems quite limited beyond working for non-profits or a teaching position, and we all know how meager those jobs pay. Not to say money is everything, but we do live in San Francisco, currently one of the most expensive cities in the United States, and the world.

Besides, if he’s to feed his car addiction as I have done, he’s going to need to make some money for sure. Congratulations and the very best of luck to my not-so-little-anymore brother.

UC Santa Cruz: a beautiful campus nestled within a redwood forest.

Imposter syndrome at work

Having grown up poor and seeing how both parents work low-wage, labor-heavy jobs just to provide, I’ve been imbued with a sense that you earn your money by working hard - physically hard, that is. If you’re not constantly doing something during work hours, then you are definitely not earning that paycheck. That mentality have served me well in my younger years as it’s all about the hustle and doing the most in order to standout amongst a crowd. Now that I’m decently established in my current job, the inherited thinking from my parents causes a bit of internal conflict.

My job is mainly to help people when they need technical assistance with technology in a classroom. If an instructor have trouble plugging a Macbook Pro into the ceiling projector, I am his Huckleberry. As is the tendency of this kind of work, some days we get an endless amount of phone calls, and others there’s nary a troubleshoot to be had. It’s on those less busy days where I am sat waiting for the next call that the feelings of an imposter and not fully-deserving of my salary, creeps in.

I can’t seem to reconcile my upbringing with the fact I mostly get paid for my knowledge and expertise, and only a small portion is for actual physical work. Indeed this is what a typical white-collar job looks like, and I guess my blue-collar childhood carries some residual effects on whether or not I think myself worthy of such a role. That’s my unique sort of imposter syndrome: am I doing enough to deserve this job? I constantly ask myself this.

Indeed I’ve achieved the hopes of my parents, to not have to trade physical labor for a meager salary, and I am profoundly grateful for it. However, sometimes that gratitude can corrupt itself into an adverse sense of fear that it can all be taken away in short order. So I work hard justify my position, and mentally stress about my competence level. I’m sure in a perverse way that thinking has helped me get to the place I am today, but looking forwards I really could do without with the unnecessary stress.

At some point I need to be confident in what I can do and not worry about the tangible amounts in I am doing. It’s simply the nature of the work.

Indeed it does, writing-on-the-bathroom-wall guy.