While it's reached buzzword levels of infamy, something I have struggled with a lot is impostor syndrome. Not just in regards to tech or software engineering. In fact, most of my life I've been living in the shadow of impostor syndrome. The earliest of my experiences tied in with impostor syndrome were social interactions. Growing up as a neurodivergent kid, I wasn't really capable of parsing much of anything related to social cues - and this was before I knew I was neurodivergent or even that neurodivergence was a thing. I just knew there was something "wrong" with me. I didn't know how all the other kids could so easily interface with each other and understand what was going on. I didn't know that other people weren't experiencing the sensory hell that I was - an extra factor that made being around others difficult. I thought everyone just dealt with it.
So that's what I taught myself to do: deal with it.
This mindset had compounding consequences that I'm still dealing with to this day. When you let the pressure to perform control how you interface with others, you sacrifice parts of yourself so that you can put on that performance. It could be as simple as coping with difficult sensory issues when in public without letting it interfere with how you're perceived, whether that be rude or inattentive or anything else. It could be as complex as hiding (or building) parts of your identity solely for the consumption of others.
I could talk at length about how these things connect, but that's not what this article is about. I've realized that my goal of being the type of person I wish I had access to during the various stages of my life is rather exhausting. That's not to say I don't love striving to be that person; I've just been bad at setting boundaries around how I approach it.
I'm still trying to figure out how all these aspects of me need to co-exist. I still want to be vocal about the things I care about. I still want to write the articles I want to write. I still want to field messages from people who reach out to me. But my bandwidth hasn't been able to juggle all these things as efficiently during Capstone.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm no longer putting myself on a timetable, especially when it comes to writing. Most of my best work is done spontaneously, anyway. Don't worry, I'll still be putting out Capstone reflections (and articles in general), just not on an exact schedule. Most of my life, I've found that compressing myself to fit expectations ends up back-firing. I figured that for one of the things I enjoy the most, writing, I should ensure that I continue to enjoy it so that I accomplish all that I want with it.
I know some people might think that lowering your expectations of yourself is an obvious step, but it never seemed like an option when I was younger. If I lowered my expectations, it meant that my performance might falter and someone might catch a glimpse of who I really am. At this point, I'm no longer afraid of that, and 90% of the reason I continue to do all the things I do beyond the bare minimum are because of messages like this:
Image Description: A screenshot of a message saying 'I actually really appreciate your visibility on the LS Slack. It helps. :heart emoji:'.
So I'm still going to be me, and un-apologetically so. But beyond my Capstone responsibilities, if you're relying on me for something just slap a 5-7 business day buffer on any timetable I give you, and we'll be golden.
As always, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy your week.