30 May 2002 squinky   » (Journeyer)

I'm not sure if I'm really cut out for this.

I got into the computer business because it was fun and something I have a talent for. Now, seven or eight years into my career, I'm doing moderately well, but I can't help but feel like this isn't what I should be doing with eight hours of my day.

I've never gotten to the point of using terms like "ADHD" or anything. In school, teachers and counselors just called me lazy. They told me in the most exasperated tones they could muster about their confoundment at my "choice" not to be a good citizen and apply myself. They liked to remind me that I was choosing not to participate. I could never explain why I did things the way I did then, and I can't now.

Hummingbirds stick around longer than I do.

I feel like I went to bed one night as a mullet-haired 12-year-old and woke up at 25, a college dropout working the last three weeks of his programming contract at a big damn microchip company. And now I have just started to take a look at things and realize this kind of work isn't for me.

Maybe it is. I don't know. Some people have told me my code is pretty good. I don't know if they're blowing smoke or what, but the one thing about my work that I can measure is how much time I spend goofing off instead of working.

I'm really not sure how to go about explaining it. I'm not the victim of anything, and I'm not trying to make people feel sorry for me, but after twelve years of public school counselors telling my my inability to focus was by choice and that somehow I insisted on doing the wrong thing, I get a little defensive when the subject of my productivity comes up. Sometimes the things I am supposed to be doing become grating and painful, like fingernails on chalkboard, and the way I seek relief is to go read some mailing lists for a while or stand outside and stare at traffic.

A couple of years ago I found out about how the school psychologists wanted to put me on Ritalyn. My parents stuck up for me and told everyone at the schools (a) they were not going to medicate their child's personality, and (b) precisely where they could put their Ritalyn. It's good to know that my parents believed in me when I was a kid, since a lot of what I heard was how much of a disappointment I was. But once in a while I wonder if those sit-down-johnny-and-behave pills would have fixed things as well as they claimed.

Even now. I spend 80% of my day doing things that are unassociated with my job: walking around and bothering people in nearby cubes, surfing the web, staring at the ceiling. But apparently I get about as much work done as everyone else. I have tried to justify my actions in my head by saying it's better because I end up with the same amount of work by the end of the day, but I still feel like I am stealing 80% of my paycheck.

Now I am starting to think that I have to find something more exciting than programming to sustain myself. Or maybe programming something besides network testing. The suspicion still occurs that no matter what I find myself doing I'll end up unable to stick to it. It's kind of depressing.

Sorry about ranting. I guess I should get back to work.

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