It's time for the fifth annual Big Shit Tara Learned This Year post.
Which means, YIKES, it's been five years! That's longer than I was in college.
- Having a job is okay.
- Corporations are so...weird.
- Imposter Syndrome as Professional Development
- Look, ma, I'm a real developer!
- Take your time.
- Do the scary thing. Now. Do it.
The fact of having a job has made this anniversary feel fraught in a strange way. *Why am I marking this anniversary if it's not about self-employment? Did I really hate my old job so much?*
This anniversary is, instead, about when I finally got the courage and confidence to take charge of my own work life instead of following the (very nice) rut I'd found myself in. When I started taking risks and really managing my own work life instead of passively following the obvious path. And this job still fits that category. It's my annual holiday to celebrate my badass self doing the work I want to do.
Having a job has not meant: coming in to the office and following someone else's every whim. Boredom and repetition. Lack of power and agency.
I still take pride in my work. I still accept final responsibility for things not working out. I still take the role of expert rather than assistant. And I also get to relax at night.
I mean, duh, but it's been fascinating to work inside a company as large as this one. The number of moving parts, the sheer scale of the budget and timeline...it's wild in there. You *think* it's going to be all orderly and organized, but there are so many people doing so many different things. My project seems like a big deal, and then I realize there are a least a half dozen other projects of similar importance going on at any given time. It's been fascinating to get a peek into the workings of the music industry and how very, very different it is from the dance world, the tech world, etc.
Also everyone looks awesome all the time, so that's a bonus.
I had a kind of stunning revelation this year: Most of my professional decisions over the last five years have been driven by imposter syndrome. I have been striving to tackle harder and harder projects so that I would have an unassailable skill set, so no one could doubt me, so I could finally feel at ease with my own competence. If I'm a designer I have to also be a front-end developer. If I'm a front-end developer, I need to also learn back-end. If I'm back-end, I should learn DevOps.
That's a bunch of nonsense. I struggled at the beginning with serious anxiety around not being fit for the work I'm doing. Thankfully this leads to the next thing I learned:
That whole imposter syndrome thing is tricky. Working by myself had convinced me that I was doing everything wrong. Working with a team showed me that I was not doing everything wrong, and that I'm better than I thought I was. I know a ton about Drupal, I know a ton about building the right architecture for this site, I learn quickly, I keep things organized and I keep things moving.
I'm sure the imposter syndrome will rear its head one of these days, but it has been incredible to learn that I'm good at what I do.
For the full blow-by-blow here, just check out the recent newsletter I sent out. I don't know what my next thing will be but I want it to be something that I love with all my heart, that I feel strongly I can support, that has time to incubate, that aligns with my body and my creativity and my values.
So, I'm taking my time. I'm putting a lot of energy into making sure me and my job remain a good fit, and a little bit of energy into exploring what I'm doing next.
Which brings me to the last lesson of the year:
The biggest, scariest thing I did this year was start a 100 day project. If you're not familiar with it, I write a poem (roughly) every day and share it on Instagram as #100daysoflittlepoems (like last year's blog posts).
Doing that thing you've always wanted to do is as scary as it gets. I love poetry--both writing and reading--and yet I lived in utter fear of sharing my poems. When you want to be good at a thing, but you turn out to be bad at it....well, what next? What monster lives in that chasm of failure?
Let's be real--most poems are fucking terrible. And poetry is dead. And there's no money in it. And...it has been easy to talk myself out of this for too long.
For two months I posted the poem late at night so I could convince myself no one would see it. I didn't hook Instagram to my Twitter account until about poem 85. I still haven't posted them to my facebook account. I fight those fears off every single day. I have a good three dozen voices in my head who make fun of my poems. I've been quietly murdering them.
But. I am wrapping up that project (today!) and putting together a kickstarter to sell a book of poems. At the start of this year, I did NOT think I would be self-publishing a book of poetry. I feel invigorated. I have momentum.
I don't know what year six looks like, but I'm excited. (At least insofar as my work is concerned. The world is clearly going to hell in a hand basket.)
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