You deserve it

When you live with low self-esteem your whole life, there are many times you just feel like you don’t deserve good things in your life. Good things like a good salary from your full-time job, a bunch of great friends, or an abundance of opportunities.

It can stemmed from constant exposure to comparison with relatives and friends in terms of education, wealth, the house you live in, the type of clothes you wear, etc. Or it could even stem from how you are talk at by people around you.

And so over time, you believe that you actually feel like you are nothing and whatever you do don’t amount to anything. So you put in less effort and feel depress. Ultimately, you find yourself making decisions and take actions that feed into this vicious cycle of diminishing your sense of worth and value.

You know what? You probably deserve that because nobody can really make you feel that unless you allow it to.

I know because I allow that to happen in my life. I allow people to tell me that I’m worthless and useless until the point where I believed them. And so my actions actually reconcile with those beliefs. It also affected how I negotiated for things in life. And the biggest pain point stemming from that is how much you are paid for the work you do.

It’s actually rather embarrassing to admit that I undervalued myself in terms of my salary because I thought that I don’t deserve the higher pay because I concluded whatever I did before landing at my current job was useless and non-transferrable. I came to believe that my short stint at my previous company meant I don’t deserve the higher pay.

And it came to bite me in the ass recently. The news and what my friends have been saying about the state of the industry and how well other software engineers are paid finally got to me. I feel like I’m finally not paid what I’m worth. And then there’s the realisation that the things I do are really too simple. Yet, I didn’t want to take on more stuff because I thought I wasn’t paid for it. Honestly, it’s an interesting contradiction to see and the motivation to do anything really takes a beating from going through this.

Now that is really a stupid thing to do.

It’s the truth that the biggest hurdle to anything you want to achieve is yourself. You just have to believe in yourself and your ability to take on anything. If you have been doing something for years and years, honing your skills repeatedly and going for various kind of training, there’s really nothing out there that you can’t solve. All you do need is trust yourself to solve it using whatever resources at your disposal.

This was why I finally made the leap to quit my job last Friday. I feel like it’s probably time I take on something more challenging typically found in a startup environment and expanding out from just purely development role. Mentoring is something that I can consider doing. So now I am currently serving out my two months notice period. My manager, of course, is now attempting to retain me by throwing in a bunch of carrots. I will adopt a wait and see attitude to that but deep down, I really doubt the company’s ability to meet my request. Thus, I didn’t stop searching for new jobs. What is depressing is that I haven’t been getting any response from potential employers. However, I can’t give up just yet.

The key take away is this: believe in yourself, push yourself out of your comfort zone by a little and adopts a growth mindset, you probably deserve whatever good things that’s to come your way. Just ask for it, and you shall receive. Even if you didn’t, you also won the game. You won by stopping yourself from believing you deserve nothing good.

You are your own limiter

Unlike animals, humans can do a great deal of things. We have achieved far more than any living creatures on this planet. We have built civilisations and organised ourselves that no other animals do, constructed living spaces using materials we fashioned from nature. And we have even built virtual worlds and communicate over vast distances using electricity by manipulating how they move.

Yet, we are all flawed in different ways. Most of our decisions are muddied by our emotions and how we see the world. Because of that, we have people who are over-achievers at one end and people who can’t even take care of themselves even when they are in adulthood at the other end. And that’s excluding people with disabilities. Hell, even some disabled people can achieve way more than able-bodied people.

Our emotions and feelings affect our behaviours and how we interact with the world. So if you lived a life full of emotional scars and setbacks, you can either be very fearful of what life has got to offer or you become very apathetic and cynical.

In my case, I grew up in a risk-averse environment with one dominant parent who is highly-neurotic and a pessimist. You have to listen to all the negative things. And then when you go to school, you have to face teachers who, instead of encouraging you, actually speak negatively of you in front of everybody. Making matter worse, your relatives also chimed in from time to time when you do see them. So you see, when you experience such things when you are between 5 to 14, it’s very easy for you to believe the following phrases to be true: ‘you are good for nothing’,’Can’t amount to much’ or ‘he’s so stupid’.

And in fact, it’s so ingrained in me that I even tell myself those words from time to time when I do face setbacks. Even today, after having audit myself and try to take back control of my thought processes. It’s actually very difficult for me to tell myself the opposite even when I do catch myself doing it. So self-esteem is really low. Self-confidence is also lacking. And being in the workforce isn’t helping at all due to the rapidly changing situations and you have a higher rate of failure than you face in school.

You know what’s the scary thing?

You just automatically learn that it’s best to do the safe thing. Be low profile. Do what you are told. You just watch yourself do those because your psyche is too weak to take any more blows. End up, you are limiting yourself and the opportunities you can have to live a better life.

And I can tell you there are times when I’m just scared shitless for no good reason during the first few days of my job hunt. The “Apply” and “Upload Resume” buttons feel like they are out to get you. A big part stemmed from my beliefs that I can’t do those stuffs mentioned in the job descriptions. I almost wanted to resign myself to do work in a company that it’s obviously a wrong fit for me. Well, I could and can feel it in my bones. But the moment I got started hitting the first “Apply” button, the fear just disappear. It’s now boil down to whether I want to work for that company before hitting the button.

This is something I need to remind myself every time. There’s no one stopping me from doing anything I want. Only I can stop me from doing anything I want. So if I want to join some of the biggest names in tech, I can. I just have to find a way to convince the hiring managers I’m a good fit.

Complaining get you no where, only action will

Many of us, including myself, go through life predicated on complaining and blaming the world for things that went wrong and will go wrong. Many times, we aren’t even conscious of the fact we are complaining. It’s just something that we do out of habit. In part, it could be because of how we were brought up by our parents. Another part could be because we are lazy as fuck and would rather blame the world for everything instead of fighting for a way out of our circumstances, whatever that may be.

Complaining by itself isn’t all bad. It allows us to point out the bad stuff that happened in our life and hopefully get some attention to it. However, it is bad if nothing is done with regard to the situation. It’s like you are behaving like a child. Children complain because there are really times they aren’t able to deal with a situation effectively and require adults to help. But if you are an adult, you should have pretty much figure out by now what you can do and cannot do. And some things are just best left as it is. Unless, you have lived a very sheltered life and never got the chance to mature.

But I also recognise that the complaining habit is difficult to break, especially if you have grown up in an environment where complaining is the default behaviour and that your complaining have always gotten you what you wanted. I know because that’s what I went through.

In fact, I’m guilty of some complaining even at this stage despite my best effort to be conscious of it and then seek to actively change my circumstances. I’m somewhat complaining and whining to myself about the writing situation. The good thing was I didn’t vocalise because I recognise it’s on me to fix the situation. I know I have fallen off the bandwagon with the lack of content and even my fiction writing isn’t going anywhere. No amount of complaining to people around me is going to help. Rather, I’m doing an internal complaint to myself about why I’m not doing anything about the situation.

With that, I spur myself into taking action. Forcing myself to do some writing. I even put on my AirPods and blast some music to get me prime for it. And here I am writing this entry.

The next thing I’m guilty of complaining about was the situation at work. It has gotten to a point where I’m really unhappy. Feeling that you are underpaid, under-appreciated and overwork can really do your morale in. Then, there is the lack of opportunities to develop your engineering and design skills. You are really just going through the motions. Furthermore, the fact you have to deal with colleagues that has far more years of work experience can’t seem to make technical decisions just made the whole situation untenable and unsustainable. Last but not least, you are on the receiving end of your colleagues’ bad-mouthing about work not done when it fell onto their lap due to a sudden development schedule change that you have no control of.

However, no amount of complaining is going to change my work situation. Thus, this is the time where action matters. Update your resume. Firing off emails to potential employers as part of your job hunt. You don’t even need to start with many employers. Just one will do. It’s to kickstart your momentum. Mind you, just a few months ago, I was complaining about the work situation but I didn’t do anything about it. I gave myself several excuses to stay on. I was actually comfortable with the job itself, needed the money to fund my writing, and wasn’t sure if I could get the same work-life balance that I have now for me to do my writing. Now, I feel like I have regressed in my personal growth.

And I did those things. Now I feel like I have achieved something instead of complaining and wallowing in self-pity. And I feel good about it.

A friend recently also point out the uselessness of complaining and cite me as one example. You see, I care deeply about my privacy and there are times when I really just want to go off the grid and delete every single online account that I have created and used. But instead of complaining purely about how Facebook is anti-privacy and steal all our data, I went and deleted my account. Whether Facebook keeps my account data forever or actually delete all traces of it is something I can’t control and besides the point. The point is I took action, no matter how minor or minuscule in grand scheme of things.

In conclusion, you can complain and get stuff out of your chest. However, be aware of what you are saying and doing. Don’t let complaining be the only thing you do when things don’t go your way. Take action and make the necessary adjustment.

Lack of experiences kill your creativity

It’s very easy for us humans to fall into the trap of sticking to what’s familiar. We like it because of how it make us feel. Comfortable is the word to use here. After all, who likes to struggle every day of their life?

I definitely don’t. But I recognised that it had crept up on me. I grew comfortable with what I’m doing with my life that my blog is suffering from lack of content. Comfort leads to writer’s block and that leads to no content created.

So being comfortable is bad.

Right?

Probably…

By allowing yourself to grow very comfortable and remain status quo, it’s very easy for you to find you are unable to think out of the box or come up with new solutions fast enough. It’s just a fact. Similar to how you keep doing the same set of exercises and your body has grown used to it, comfort leads to strengthening of existing neural connections that you have already established, and after a while the brain stops doing that because there’s no more necessary changes to the signalling.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with being comfortable. Comfortable sometimes could be you have reached the pinnacle of whatever skill you are developing. That means you could do that thing faster than before.

However, the key here is moderation.

New challenges and experiences forces the brain to create new connections and reshape existing ones. And when you keep doing that, the brain is constantly changing and reinforcing certain connections that ultimately results in its ability to come up with new ideas. This is where you can think out of the box when the time comes. If you keep practicing doing that, it can also make you more confident as a person when it comes to dealing with new problems as they come.

For those who are neurotic, constantly worrying about stuff or have low self-esteem, they would probably go like, “Are you crazy? Take on new challenges? I’d rather kill myself.”

I know. I can relate. It’s very difficult to get yourself to experience new things. Personally, I have this issue because of my innate desire for stability and consistency in life. I’ve lost count of how many times I need to will myself to do something different just so that I expand my knowledge and experience.

This is why you won’t see me asking someone to do something drastic just to increase or revive your creativity. For example, there is no need for you to jump out of a perfectly good airplane just so you can jumpstart your creativity. You won’t see me doing that either.

Yet, it’s not good either to leave the “lack of experience, can’t create” situation unresolved. Not if you want to grow any further.

Instead, what you probably could do is find and know where is your comfort zone. Then ask yourself if you are willing to go out of your comfort zone by just one or two steps. If you do, then do it. And if you do manage to go out of your comfort zone by three to ten steps, then it’s even better. If not, then it’s better that you don’t complain about your situation and just live with it.

And you know what?

Sometimes, the new experience can come from simply changing up where you stand or sit when you are riding the train to work or to go back home. Or having a drink at your local coffee shop. Or maybe just take a different route to go to your usual places.

Diversifying your genre

All of us humans have something in common. We have our own likes and dislikes when it comes to food, drinks, entertainment and even physical activities. And it’s no surprising that we only go for what we like and avoid what we dislike at all cost. After all, who wants to feel uncomfortable?

But as the saying goes, being uncomfortable is what allow us to grow and to be better. When it comes to writing, that means diversifying.

In order to write, it’s necessary for writers to read a lot. That’s how they can learn and grow to become better at their craft. So if a writer prefers only science fiction, like in my case, then he or she would read up anything set in that genre to get inspiration, improve on their character development, world building, etc. Maybe occasionally, he or she would read books or novels in another genre because it managed to catch their attention.

However, this approach may not be as effective as you think to help you grow as a writer. There are only so many variations you can do a particular genre that you will find yourself doing the same thing as those authors when you are finally done with a story.

Let’s take science fiction as an example. There are two main type of science fiction: hard and soft (not a very precise term). Hard science fiction doesn’t play fast and loose with the laws of physics. Every piece of technology or ideas featured must have basis in real life. On the other hand, soft science fiction allows for faster-than-light travel, fantasy elements like super human powers, etc. And under each category, you can have space opera-type, utopia-type science fiction and dystopia-type science fiction. As for enemies, maybe you have either aliens, rogue machines, or maybe another species of humans.

Just imagine what would happen if you stick to reading and writing only science fiction forever…

I have always been writing and reading science fiction throughout my late teens and adulthood. My ideas are really only drawn from science fiction books, video games or shows that I’ve seen. After a while, I realised I’m doing the same shit as the rest are doing. I’m not growing any more. It’s boring as hell.

That’s why I decided to go into horror. There is this goal of mine. To be able to merge science fiction, horror and thriller together to create a compelling story. As some people said, the best ideas are those that intersects multiple themes.

And to be able to do that, in my view, it means that you have reached the height of your writing ability. I also know it will take a lot of hard work.

For a start, you have to consume the right kind of horror. You have to understand what it meant to create horror. There are so many horror movies out there. Video games too. And you can always read Stephen King’s books like The Shining and IT. For me, I love horror because of the way they make me feel. They make me worry for the characters, worry about what’s going to come out and scare me out of my seat, etc.

But when it comes to creating it, it is difficult. I mentioned it once in a previous post. And I remembered what my school English teachers once said, “Horror is very difficult to write. Please don’t do it for your English composition, especially during examination if you want to pass.”

They are right. You see, I’ve been stuck for weeks now when it comes to writing Part 3 of Murderous House as I wasn’t sure how to bring out the suspense and make my readers fear for the characters anymore.

Yet it doesn’t mean that you give up. I’m not giving up just yet as I still try to put in words and form the story paragraph by paragraph. It’s important that we use this kind of situation to learn and grow further. Now, since I don’t know how to bring out the suspense or horror anymore, then I have to go find inspirations and also dig deep into my memories of how horror make me feel and then realise something suitable for the story. I’ve got to read more horror. And I’ve got the game Resident Evil 2 (2019) keeping me at the edge of my seat. I can draw on those feelings I get to write.

When I do get out of this debacle, it would meant that I have learnt something new and could apply it to my next piece of writing. As the skills get developed further, it would allow me as a writer to experiment comfortably and to tell a better story. That means I would be one step closer to my goal of telling a story that merges science fiction, horror and thriller genres.

So if you enjoy writing a story of a specific genre, maybe it’s time you stop for a while and change. Let’s say you enjoy reading and writing romance novels. Maybe it’s time you switch to action stories. Or maybe thriller. Who knows. Maybe you can create an even more compelling romance story based on your diversification.