My Own Can of Whoopass

There’s no heat in my room, and no easy way to fix it. I’m going to have to buy my own space heater, because the heater that we already have is located in the basement and doesn’t rise all the way upstairs. I say this because it just illustrates how hard it is to get out of bed in the morning, because the temperature without the electric blanket and the moment I throw it off is drastic. I am so cold that I tend to actively avoid taking my clothes off to change into pajamas. I just fall asleep in whatever I wore to work because those moments when I have to change or pee are just intolerable, and I put them off as long as possible. Perhaps I will get a space heater for the bathroom as well… or at the very least, some jar candles to warm up the room when I take a bath or shower. Jar candles are highly effective, and perhaps that’s all I need for my room, as well. Plus, I have the chance to make my room smell like cookies. That can’t suck, right? And then I realized that there was more to the story.

This morning, I severely overslept and had to Uber in, although once I did, I was at the office so early there was no one to let me in, and I stood in the cold and thought about why I overslept. My alarm went off, and I snoozed for an hour, foregoing my normal writing time to sleep in. I forgot that once you hit the snooze button for a certain number of times, the alarm shuts off altogether… and therefore, I had no way of knowing that I’d actually slept until 0745, when I normally wake up at 0600. I was coding in my head like a madman, because when I left last night, there was a piece of SQL making me tear my hair out, and I was trying to work it out in my sleep (it really works…. most of the time). It was then that I realized part of oversleeping was fear. I didn’t have this code snippet worked out, and I didn’t want to get vulnerable enough to admit it.

When I was standing outside the office, I had a severe talk with myself, because I got in trouble with myself and I needed to open my own can of whoopass. I had to tell myself that it was okay to be frightened at a new job, but that didn’t mean I needed to give up my writing time just to put off the point at which I needed to wake up and face that fear head on. I missed the window at which I could have gotten on the train by a mere 10 minutes, but that ten minutes is the difference between being on time and 30 minutes late. While that wouldn’t have ever been a thing (we often come in late and stay late), my north star is to be early every day. I tend to beat my office mates by a ton, and it makes me happy. The only thing is that it’s frustrating to beat them by so much that I have to wait for someone to let me in.

But being cold is motivating. When the office opened, I went straight to my computer and opened my coding environment and started knocking things out. I still haven’t solved the problem, but the main point is that when I kicked my own ass, I got results. I was no longer afraid, just determined. Then, when I came to another point at which I wanted to slam my head against my desk, my office mate told me that she would teach me how to use software to make the SQL easier instead of coding it all by hand. When I got vulnerable, so did she. It was a watershed moment, knowing that I didn’t have to know everything, just the right person to ask. There is nothing more frustrating than pushing the “execute” button and having the code error out, because the errors it points out are rarely what’s actually wrong, so they are spectacularly unhelpful.

For instance, if it says the error is on line X, it’s usually not. It’s usually several lines up, which is just a #facepalm all the way around. The good thing is that I am such a grammar nazi that I rarely get errors from something as simple as a missed colon; it’s usually that what I want to say is not what I actually said. As Mark Twain once quipped the difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. I am slowly learning the right words, and I’m not a bad coder, just a relatively inexperienced one… and this job is what is going to teach me if I let it. Programmers are inherently collaborative. I’m just the jackass that wants to know everything and make it seem like everything is within my control.

Guess what? Very little is.

I’ve realized that I am on par with my office mates, which makes me happy. I don’t need to be God’s gift to coding on the first day I start. For instance, yesterday one of my office mates taught me how to use a function to make my life so much easier, and if I hadn’t reached out, I would have spent at least an extra hour trying to figure out what to do. I do have experience in SQL coding, but at the same time, I didn’t realize that what I’ve done before is so different than what I am doing now. Databases are all different in their own way, especially in terms of handling operators. This may not make sense to 99.9% of you, but those that get it will understand why something that worked previously has me chain-drinking coffee now.

The part that you will understand is that this morning, I was afraid. Now, I’m not.

Good talk.


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