Blog

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

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.

Want happy? Be less stressed

There’s lots of people out there chasing the ever elusive goal of happiness. Bookstores (okay; Amazon) and the Internet is filled with books and articles on how to be happy; that somehow once we attain it, all would be okay and we can live peacefully onwards thereafter.

I’ve certainly tried to find my happiness, and I have to say it’s as fleeting as it is difficult. The moments of joy in realizing a goal - like buying a Porsche - is a momentary dopamine hit that doesn’t last. Worse, once it wears off I am back to base one, back to before I started on the goal. I’d immediately need of another aim to deliver me that same joy once more. It seems that for me, happiness is indeed like the hedonistic treadmill, rather than something constant, which is I think is what we’re all after.

Is it possible to be happy all the time - as the default state of mind? I’d imagine the answer is quite idiosyncratic. If it were so easy then there wouldn’t be a vast cottage industry to provide answers for those seeking it. Personally, instead of adding things to my life and hoping those things will fill up the happiness meter permanently, to achieve somewhat constant happiness, it’s about paring it down: to do less, to want less, and really focus on only the truly important.

Via negativa.

These days I’ve realize that instead of chasing happiness, it’s far more constructive to eliminate stress. The side-effects of stress are readily apparent: my resting heart rate is elevated, I grind my teeth at night during sleep, and pimples sprout out on my face, even though you’d think at age 31 I’d be forevermore done with those marks of puberty. Nevertheless, it’s been a bit of an aim lately for me to be conscious of when I am feeling stressed, and to address the underlying cause.

For example, when I am wake up every day, my mind tends to wander to the work day ahead, even though I’ve yet to even leave the bed! Pondering about those various tasks fills me with anxiety and stress, needlessly so because I can’t do anything about those things until I actually get to work. It’s not something I should be thinking about while I go through my morning routine; if anything, I ought to be calm and relaxed so that I can perform my best later in the day.

There’s procedural examples, too: I gave up driving a car for the commute precisely because it got too stressful to deal with the massive amount of traffic every day. Taking the bus have been one of the best changes I’ve done last year, because riding the bus allows me to zone out and listen to my podcasts, rather than worry about other drivers on the road.

Obviously, not all stress are bad; some are crucial in kicking me in the ass to do better, like my daily checklists of tasks, and a self-promise to keep this website updated regularly. The stress from those pseudo deadlines are super helpful; what I am looking to eliminate are the frivolous and unnecessarily stresses.

As with anything in life, it’s a constant work in progress.

Messing around with symmetry and light.