Daily Log #61

I’m angry.

I’m depressed.

I’m upset.

I’m tired.

I’m all the above.

Why?

Work stress is now beyond my existing coping mechanism. The demands are way more than what I expected. Now, I’m really looking for a more chilling work that doesn’t completely drain me everyday. So draining that I can’t even will myself to go exercise. All I wanted to do is actually to sleep. I’m that exhausted.

I look at my novel and hated myself for not even coming anywhere close to finishing the first draft. And I promised that I will finish the first draft before the end of the month. Now I fear I have to break that promise, which only make me feel even worse.

A part of me wanted to blame something but I know it’s really useless. It’s not going to change anything. The only thing that matter is to work through it and get things done.

I also just can’t bring myself to readily accept any advice given by people who aren’t even living life the way I do. They don’t even have the kind of sensitive nervous system that constantly bring them down and make them depressed. They don’t have a critic inside of them that keep generating criticism on everything the do or a mind that keep worrying about stuff.

I really want to sleep now… my back and neck aches came back. And reality is no one cares. I just have to deal with it by tolerating it. But I have just finished dinner too. Since it takes up to four hours for a meal to be digested properly, so I can’t sleep.

This struggle… No one cares either…

I do feel like ranting on and on but it’s also not going to change anything. I still feel miserable…

I’ll admit I do sound more self-absorbed…

So I will end it here.

Daily Log #60

I arrived at office slightly later than usual because I wanted to get my starbucks. The daily standup meeting had already started when I walked in. So I put my things down and joined in.

Although I missed out on the first part of the meeting where the team lead was mentioning about the need for us to be more committed to the project, and work as a team. And there is the mention of the need for us to be assertive and not aggressive when it comes to stating what we want.

Well, it will definitely take some effort on each of us to even let that happen. I for one has different values, needs, and wants when it comes to work, which are totally not in sync with the rest of the team. This is where adaptability comes into play but still, it doesn’t change the fact that this is not a tribe or a job that I want to be in for long term.

Put it this way, I don’t enjoy working for more than 6 hours straight nor do I enjoy dealing with people who’s somewhat like me. I don’t like me either because I know I can get quite stubborn and rigid when it comes to certain things. Then I also noticed this desire to protect oneself and shifting blame when things goes wrong. I think I think have been on the receiving end of this several times whether it is intentional or not. In the past, I’m also guilty of doing it but now I try to be more conscious about where the fault is with before I say anything. As a rule of thumb, I will blame me first. Lastly, there’s just this aura from some of my colleagues that rub me wrong. I can’t place the reason but sometimes, I just don’t feel comfortable around them.

So, at the end, I guess I will just do what I can given the culture and look forward to my pay day. While I’m there, I will look for whatever opportunities or tasks that align with what I enjoy doing, apply my conscientiousness while I’m working, and that’s about it. It just doesn’t make sense for me to make myself miserable by looking at the bad. So a change of the frame of mind is necessary here.

But I have to note that I have not intention of climbing the corporate ladder. I have also somehow made my current schedule work for me, so I don’t want to change that. I will stick by my own rule of not putting unnecessary hours at work. I need more rest if not I will become extremely grumpy or angry. Also, having spent up to nine hours per day at work is long enough and exhausting. I simply don’t want to spend any more waking minutes seeing and sharing the same space as my colleagues. I like more percentages of my time to be spent alone to rest and play.

That’s just who I am. If I have to spend time with someone, I rather spend it with friends.

Work and life aside, I for one have always enjoy watching shows or reading about stuff dealing with the paranormal and psychic abilities. Even when stories that I write contain elements of those things.

That’s why the last two days spent on Netflix, I found myself watching a Japanese show call Mob Psycho 100.

Having watched all the episodes, the main theme with the show is that one should never be unkind, bad or evil even if you have superpowers because at the end of the day, you are just another human being. That being said, it applies to people in power or with authority. You are only there because people allow you to be there. If you abuse it, you will find yourself pulled down. In the worse case scenario, you’d be killed and someone else will take over. We see that happened throughout history. So…be a nice person.

Daily Log #59

It’s so easy.

So easy to get me feeling irritated and pissed off.

The combination of things that will trip me up is endless. One request here. Another request over there. Pile work on me. Ask me another question over there. Make some offhanded comments about my work.

Heart rates goes up. I feel boil inside. It takes quite a fair bit of effort on my part to keep it down, suppress it and focus. Sometimes, I will try to laugh it off despite feeling that frustration deep inside.

That’s what happened today. The atmosphere… The colleagues… The work…

Now you know why my blog address is as such. I’m emotionally turbulent. I’m reactive. I’m overly sensitive.

It’s both nurture and nature. My family tree consists of people like that too. Everyone got their own kind of trigger.

And this is why I adopt minimalism. It helps to remove distraction from my life. Helps to prevent physical stuff (even digital ones) from stressing me out. My mind is already constantly reacting and boiling. I don’t need more.

I even apply minimalism to my work, taking advantage of my innate ability to be able to focus and be conscientious. Yet, I also know demands of modern day work means you have to juggle. You have to context switch. I can’t. It automatically make me feel flustered and disoriented. Even after applying coping mechanism and be mindful. I still feel that boil inside. That anger.

I know is my achilles heel. I could try to be better at context switching and make myself feel less flustered but sometimes, it just isn’t in you. It would be like forcing someone who just isn’t born to be a bodybuilder to bulk up. It is a waste of time and energy. Instead, I personally would rather focus on applying my strengths in everything I do and I think that’s how I can contribute to anything.

My only question would be: will anyone even accept that and let me do what I do best?

I suspect people will try to make me into something I’m not or expect me to be like the rest.

It’s up to me to push against that and don’t let people affect me to the point where I’m questioning myself. My identity.

Like my blog’s tagline.

“Be yourself. Live your way. Your own pace.”

Daily Log #58

I didn’t feel particularly excited about going to work today. There was this general sense of tiredness and disinterest. Everything I do is slow. That lasted the whole morning and only got slightly better in the afternoon after lunch.

These days even when I’m tired, I didn’t really go with caffeine. I have since learnt that high-acidity of my stomach and the hunger pangs were caused by consumption of more than 80mg of caffeine. Even 60mg can be a little too much. So I went with chamomile tea. So far, I like to think that it helped to calm my nerves down.

Later in the afternoon, I managed to gain a little more energy and went ahead to finish implementing a new video streaming API on the backend to connect to a different endpoint provided by another sub-system. Although my team lead made everything sound so simple and shouldn’t be very complicated to implement, think procedural style and bare minimum use of design patterns, I for one don’t take that approach. I like things designed properly from the get-go with modularity and maintenance in mind. Well, at least based on what I think is modular but I also admit that I may have overcomplicated the whole implementation.

After I was done, I started working on the frontend at around 5pm. However, I didn’t do a lot because it was approaching 6pm. What I did do was to follow up with my colleague on the data. Turns out there were some issue with the data. At around 6.30pm, I decided to call it a day and head home, promising that I will take a look at that data tomorrow.

Daily Log #57

I skipped several days of Daily Log because I was quite busy hanging out with friends and family gatherings. Friends and family are two of the most important things in my life. Therefore I will put them first whenever humanely possible.

On Friday night, I met up with my friends from secondary school for dinner and movie. We had dinner at Sushi Tei and Deadpool 2 for movie. During dinner, we caught up with each other on things like work and life. The good thing about not having Facebook is that I’m forced to talk to my friends and share stuff. I don’t check my phone anymore to distract myself.

During the catching up session, it turns out one of my friend love money so much that he is willing to survive on just painkillers with caffeine so that he can work non-stop for seven days straight without sleep. In exchange, he earn nearly $7000 at the end of the seven days after delivering on a project. And in the day? He had a day job that pays him $5000 per month.

All I can say is, that approach just isn’t worth it. Yes, the society and our economy is cold and pragmatic. Money runs the world. But what if you drop dead from that and don’t get a chance to spend that money? His excuse was that he’s still young and he won’t die now. However, there has been cases of people as young as 13 dying of heart failure in their sleep.

For me, I’m going on the other path. I will put in the hard work but never, never at the expense of my health. I take into account my sensitivities when I do anything. If it’s time to sleep or rest or drop work completely, I will do those instead. And whoever wants to ask me to work more, I will tell the person to fuck off nicely. As a highly-sensitive person, getting into a serious fight or argument with someone is just not in me. It’s stressful too.

On Saturday morning, I went to the bank to update the name of my account so that it is in sync with my identity card. Banks, being banks, are very sensitive and particular when it comes to personal information. One wrong letter here or a change of certain things means you can’t get money out.

I also took some time in the afternoon to play Cities Skylines and I still find myself dealing with negative income. I have to look again at how my city generate income and what’s consuming so much.

Later that day, my family and I went to grandma house for a gathering with other relatives. After dinner, some quick chat, have some fun with my cousins, my family and I went home at around 10pm.

Sunday morning is another outing with a friend to catch Deadpool 2 again. Then we had lunch at our usual spot. If you are wondering why? Well, I think I mention before. It’s never about the movie. It’s about the company. Simple stuff. Simple catchup.

On the work front, I found myself rather exhausted mentally. I have had bouts of depression every other weeks or two and I could see signs of burnout too. Because of that, I decided to pull myself out of doing certain things. I am applying minimalism to my work life.

You see, because of my background, I’m doing both backend and frontend development but it’s exhausting. So I told my team leader that I don’t want to work on the backend of the application, with the exception of the identity access module because that’s something I have ownership over and is good with. He agreed but only when they actually manage to get a new hire. And nobody knows when that will be. Thus far, my company hasn’t been successful in getting the right kind of people and have trouble finding the really good ones.

If you wonder why I don’t want to work on the backend anymore, well… I’m having trouble tolerating poorly designed and written code. I’m also having trouble accepting poorly named variables, database columns, and functions that doesn’t really capture the essence of the use case or the domain in my view. I know deep down, this isn’t just some CRUD application that we are working on. So seeing those stuffs just irritates me so much that I felt like I’m a gear in a system that keep finding my gear teeth caught in some weird cloths, preventing me from gripping on to other gears or rotating properly. It slows me down so much that I couldn’t write codes fast enough.

I have only myself to blame for not being adaptable enough. Or that I am no aligned with what the team’s objective with regard to this application and that is delivering functionality as fast as possible. I know those are valid concerns but at the same time, it’s just who I am for the intolerance. I care about long-term maintenance, code readability, modularity, and zero-ambiguity in implementation. There is also the desire for form, perfection, control, and a dash of OCD coming from my core personality. So, I’m not sorry for that.

Now you see why I also love Apple and their products.

And my apologies if my Daily Log seem a little incoherent or jumping around. At least that’s how I felt about it. My only excuse is that… I’m exhausted from the constant outing and work-related stresses. Still, I’m putting it up because why not.

Daily Log #56

Today is just not a good day for me.

I didn’t manage to bring my mental state to neutral. My subconscious mind is feeling the stress caused by demands of my work— the need to take on my colleagues stuff, multi-task and constant schedule changes and shifts. I went through another night of insomnia, making it the second day.

There is another issue popping up and it’s related to my gut. There is this constant grinding, spasm and the need to make a run to the loo every now and then. By the last count, I have gone for the sixth time. Six times in one day! Even then, my gut is still rumbling while I’m lying in bed. It’s making me very uncomfortable. I wasn’t able to focus on whatever it was I’m doing.

My mind was also everywhere today. Frazzled. I’m having trouble thinking straight. I had some problem planning out what I want to do. Even when playing games, I’m making some of the stupidest decisions.

Sigh…

Daily Log #55

When I have a panic attack or feeling very very anxious, my mind goes everywhere and never seem to be able to focus.

If I don’t bring myself back to neutral fast…physical symptoms appear.

My back and neck aches come back with a vengeance.

I feel extremely tired and don’t  feel like doing anything.

If that anxiousness continues…for another day or two… that’s when I have to call in sick because I just won’t be able to function anymore.

Well… something happened earlier today triggered what I mentioned above. The management decided to drop a bomb on all of us about a major, head of state type of event that required the use of the application we are building now.  An application that is primarily still in development mode. And it turns out, all my colleagues are going on paid vacations on that day. So I have to pick up everyone’s stuff within a week and get ready for the big event.  I have to support and fix issues should anything goes wrong from top to bottom of the software stack.

I don’t think I need to say more how I feel deep down…

And all I know now is I am somewhat jittery.

I hope I don’t suffer insomnia over the next few days leading to that event…

And I did promise myself one thing…

If I ever find myself not able to climb out and bring myself back to a neutral state of mind again because of work, I’m quitting.

Because to me, it just isn’t worth it.

My struggles as a feeling-type, emotional and highly-sensitive programmer

Unlike many in the tech industry, I’m one of the few who see the world through the emotion lens and intuition. Gut feelings guide almost every decision I make. Whenever I set down to do something, it must feel right or I just don’t do it. Sometimes, I consciously know that it will be painful for me in the future if I don’t do anything right now.

But often times, gut feelings just doesn’t cut it in the tech industry. You have to convince people of why you think or see things certain ways. After all, it is an industry that is predominantly numbers, logical and pragmatic.

So I found myself struggling quite often to articulate why I feel so strongly against or for something or explain my decisions. It is also a struggle to explain why I know a certain thing will happen or not. And when I finally do find the right words to use to make my stand, the arguments in hindsight are weak most of the time. At the end, people will not take you seriously since you can’t convince them and will brush you off if not reject you.

Rejection hurts. A lot. Then there were times when I’m just outright angry with that. I’ll admit, I did take it personally because deep down, I am really trying to help to make sure you don’t go through the same pain by getting you to be more conscientious and put in place mechanisms now that you can use easily in the future. It also lead me to feel disappointed with myself for failing to convince anyone more than anything else.

That’s not the say I lost perspective. I do know projects are time-sensitive as the customer wants the product out fast and good. Nobody got the time to wait for you to lay down the foundational properly now. I know recognize that people at the management level are pulling their hair out trying to manage the whole project and deal with the customer. I also know that some of my colleagues are swarmed with work while some just didn’t want to expend so much effort.

Ability to multi-task is expected of you when you work as a programmer. I don’t know about the other roles in other industry because I have never worked in those before. But what I do know, from the perspective of a highly-sensitive person, multi-tasking is very expensive in terms of energy use. Then you have to juggle with a whole bunch of demands, go for meetings, eat, and mingle with other colleagues. So by the end of most of my work day, I always feel so drained.

Those are the things that make me feel like just giving up working as a programmer or engineer. I just don’t feel like I belong in this industry because of my highly-sensitive and emotional nature. I just no longer have the same conviction I had when I was younger. My colleagues, despite my efforts to explain my nature, don’t seem to get it. It means that I don’t get the kind of support I need to get through my day or do my work properly. Then, there is the self-doubt. It is also my biggest enemy and leads me to suffer from higher amount of anxiety.

Until the day I finally snap and quit software development, there are a few tips I can think of to help one go through his or her day better. I have to admit I tend forget about them when I’m overly stressed or anxious:

  1. Remind yourself that there is nothing personal at work unless it is obviously a personal attack by your colleagues. Everyone is there to do their work and fuck off at the end of the day.
  2. Be mindful of how you are feeling. Walk away if necessary, collect yourself and try again.
  3. Let it all out at the end of the day by going for a quick jog or run or exercise. Go for screaming therapy if need be. Punch a punching bag or do high-intensity workout.
  4. Avoid any form of chemical stimulants like caffeine. I know as programmers, caffeine is your best friend but if you are highly-sensitive or emotional, caffeine will send your nervous system into overdrive. That will put you at higher risk of anxiety attacks or feel more restless than usual. I have been there. If you really want something to drink that is not water, try mint, chamomile or ginger tea.

Daily Log #54

Friday

It was a big day as there was a demo of the system to customer’s senior management in the afternoon.

Leading up to the demo, I find myself getting rather angsty and reached the point of anger because my colleagues continued to rush me to implement quick fixes for some of the bugs they found. Even today…two days after…as I write this log, I still feel that lingering sense of anger when I think about it.

The first incident was when the team lead asked me to fix the image upload issue.

What I implemented was to convert any image selected by users on the client side to Bitmap format and hold it in memory. The reason was simple. The image had to be modified later quite often by both the user and system and thus I went with a lossless format. Then when I upload it to the server, it is based on that converted version.

So it was only on Friday my colleagues found that the images uploaded was too big and can’t be accepted by the sub-module, which is an image analytics engine. Then they asked me to implement a quick fix to upload the original image instead of the converted one. That’s what I did though initially, the code I wrote wasn’t as clean as it should be. I simply reuse an existing code and made modification to it. In part, it was because I don’t know C# as well as I like to think. There are certain functions or libraries that I don’t get to use or have never used. My team lead later suggested to use the Files.ReadAllBytes function to get the image bytes and upload that. So I went with that. After all there’s no difference. All we wanted was the original bytes.

That lead me to this thought. To me, sometimes it’s always best to be a Java expert or a c# expert so that you know the intricacies of a given language rather than having broad knowledge. But again, it depends on what you are trying to achieve in your programming career.

Later while we made our way to lunch, my colleagues found another issue with subsequent retrieval of the images uploaded. It was caused by a decoding error.

For me, when it is lunch, it is lunch. I hate being rushed to do work. It just grind my gears so much that it pissed me off out right. So I kind of lose my appetite to eat. Then later, on the way back, I did curse and swear. And I also didn’t get any fruits because we had to ‘rush’ back to office to fix the bug, bug that was inadvertently introduced when I changed the upload because I did’t have time to evaluate all possible problems. In part, I also didn’t see it because it’s my first time working with images in a production system.

So after I fix the bug and send the solution over, my team lead called me and asked me to implement a new function to load jpeg images and convert to bitmap because he wrote a function to download the image to local drive.

By now, I kind of boil over and raised my voice a little.

First of all, I hate to do quick fixes to any system especially when there is a very important demonstration of the application. It has constantly been shown that last minute fixes result in bugs somewhere down the line. This will cause quality drop even further, which also grind m gears. I prefer quality over any other things most of the time. And certain failure during demo or presentation is expected. Look at Apple. Even they rehearse so thoroughly, errors and problems still appear. The infamous Apple Face ID is one.

Two, I’m already feeling flustered and having trouble dumping out the toxins accumulated up to that point. After all, I didn’t just get one call from team lead. The other colleague there also called me. Well, they took turn to call me to rush me and nag at me. “We want a quick solution.” “Do it fast.” “We got a demo.”

This is what I just have to say, “WHAT MAKE YOU THINK I DON’T FUCKING KNOW THERE IS A FUCKING DEMO!!!! JUST LET ME WORK IN PEACE AND PISSED OFF. THE SOLUTION, WHEN READY, WILL BE READY!!!”

Phew… well… finally got that out of my system… feeling better.

Three, the team lead is suggesting a stupid solution of writing a new function just to do something to handle locally downloaded file when there is a FUCKING DEMO. The original codebase of loading image from the server is already working but having trouble decoding because the byte data was something the Bitmap library didn’t expect, which was in JPEG or whatever the user so chose to upload earlier. Previously, everything was in Bitmap, thus there was no issue. The solution I would already handle that problem.

Sometimes, I just don’t get my colleagues. At first they say do this because the customer want it. Then when there is a problem, they ask why do this and requested I revert back. And then there are times when the user have already seen something we implemented and didn’t mention anything, yet because of performance issue, those seen features are asked to be removed.

My only response is, “For fuck sake, can you decide what you want to do or not?”

Until now, almost a year later, there still isn’t any specific requirements laid out except for some high-level ones. It is only after the features have been shipped that the user commented it’s not something they want or that the team lead commented there’s some performance issue and need to remove certain features.

I don’t even know why it’s call software engineering when there’s no systematic approach. Everything is done on the whim just because someone up there found it problematic. I for one already live a life of action on whim, I don’t need my work to have the same approach because it can get frustrating. Put it this way, I am perfectly fine if I live my life on my whim because it is on my own term and not by others. I don’t want to nor should I live life based on others. So create a god-damn routine or system that all of us agree to for a standard way of doing things given the working culture.

Later at night, I didn’t feel like doing anything else except play video games. So that’s what I did. Video games allow me to clear away all the mental toxins built up during my work and bring my mental state back down to normal as much as possible.

Saturday

I didn’t do much except for spending most of my day gaming. The games I play primarily are Cities: Skylines, and Doom (2016). For the latter, I realized I wasn’t as fast as I would like in terms of reaction time. I keep dying and I give up later. I mean I want to play games and relax; not to play games to get pissed.

I also napped a lot. I slept from 3.30pm to 7pm before waking up to have a quick shower and joined my family for dinner. The dinner was to also celebrate Mother’s Day.

Daily Log #53

These past few days I have been going to work slightly earlier than usual because my team is having a daily (whenever possible) standup meeting. I don’t really enjoy that because it always make me super tired throughout the day and coffee is now not my go to thing. So I have to rely on sheer will to get through.

Anyway, during the meeting, we talked about what we did yesterday and what we would do today. My plan was to implement the backend capabilities to show and load events generated by the system. But plans are plans. They don’t go the way you want them to.

So end up I went about fixing bugs and implementing additional stuff that my colleagues need to do their work.

While doing my stuff, I also spent some time mentoring or guiding the intern on the stuff he needs to do. As a result of that, I went home later than usual…just like yesterday and the day before. Tomorrow afternoon will be the demo and I hope everything will go smoothly.

Once home, I watched a few episode of Superstition and re-watched the first Avenger’s movie.

Ok, that’s all for today as I need to sleep.