A Bad Case of Humilogance

I work sometimes as a programmer, which has led me to any number of realizations about not only computers but about human nature as well.

Programmers are a lot like writers, in that a great deal of their time is spent staring blankly into space before laying fingers to keyboard, and some of my best solutions and ideas for writing come to me when I’m driving home for work, the highway hypnotizing me into amazing acts of  creativity.

Writers and programmers share another trait.  We secretly doubt the worth of our own work, but will defend it ferociously against crtiicism.  I think this fades with maturity, but at the beginning of my programming career I didn’t have enough experience to know that I had no idea what I was talking about most of the time.

With maturity came humility as I learned how much I didn’t know and how much there was still to learn.  That’s not to say that arrogance doesn’t still raise it’s ugly, swollen head, but now I have enough humility to tamp it down and ask more questions first.  Having a predisposition to premature understanding (I think I understand things before I really do), I’ve struggled with this, but I think I’ve got it down, finally.

I actually created my own word for this feeling: humilogance.  The definition of humilogance is having the overwhelming desire to call someone out for being stupid, but having the humility not to because you know you’re kind of a dumbass at times.

I’ve lost count of the times I should have had humilogance, but as I grow older it’s more a regular occurrence.  I guess it’s true, the more you learn, the more you realize how much there still is to learn.


Small Victories

I suffer from anxiety and depression.  It’s one of the things that I constantly struggle with.  It’s mostly a matter of the following thoughts running through my head over and over again:
* I’m not smart enough.
* I’m not doing a good job
* I’m letting people down.
* Why can’t I get my act together?

Often all it takes is a sideways glance from a supervisor or coworker or a mental shock to my system (being told that something wasn’t good enough when I thought I’d done a good job) and my mind is off to the races, creating no end of troubles that I can ruminate over again and again.

“Gentlemen, start your recriminations!” the voice in my head exclaims, as the obsessiing begins.  The sad thing is that when this happens, not only do I obsess about the present, but every failure, embarrasing gaffe or blunder comes along for the ride.

My therapist, who I am very glad for at times like this, says it all has to do with some kind of childhood trauma that set those patterns.  I think the record that seems to play over and over in my head at times like this is missing side 2.

Why can’t I obsess about good things?  The project that went well, or the time my wife was so excited because I sent her roses twice on our anniversary?  The moment at which I figured something out after a long drawn out effort?  What is it about our brains that won’t let us focus on the positive, at least those of us who suffer from this malady.

I’m proud of myself today though.  I sat down and did my exercise that I’m supposed to do when this happens.  I wrote down what I was feeling, what triggered it, and then started looking at the facts and realized that half of the things I was starting to get upset over weren’t worth it.  I was amplifying a few minor things and discounting the things that went well.

I wrote down the things that were going well, and then I wrote down a rebuttal to all of the feelings that were making me feel bad.  And guess what, I felt better immediately.

That may seem like a small accomplishment, but 3 months ago, I wouldn’t even have the energy to write this.  I would have been in my bed instead, trying to get unconscious so I ddin’t have to deal with it.

So at this point I am going to celebrate small victories.  Tomorrow is another day blah…blah….blah.

I Am Most Definitely Down in the Trumps

Mostly, I consider politics a spectator sport, for people too smart to enjoy football.  (That ought to get some outraged comments) I discuss policy and campaign events like some people talk about the latest NFL draft. I generally have friends of the same persuasion, interested in following what is happening in the halls of Congress and the State House as much for entertainment as for the very definite impact it can have on our lives.

I do draw the line at Donald Trump. Politics should be at least somewhat cerebral, at least in my opinion, and Trump brings the level of political discourse down another 30 feet from where it was when Sarah Palin tried to run it into the ground in 2008.

What bothers me is that there are so many people who up until now, were proud of their ignorance and apathy who are falling for this guy’s line of nonsense. To a man (Trump seems to be determined to push women out of his core constituency by being a sexist pig on steroids), they seem to think politics should involve the same kind of trash talk that is usually seen in professional wrestling or Mixed Martial Arts arenas.

“He’s honest and tells it like it is!” they exclaim, not realizing that nothing Trump says is truly like it is. He is the ultimate televangelist, promising a heavenly destination where the dirty immigrants know their place and America is again the school yard bully, rubbing everyone else’s face in our greatness, which is a lie we tell ourselves to cover up for the fact that some of us go to bed hungry or are being forced to give our lunch money to the bullies to keep them from moving our jobs somewhere else.

Some may want to call him a fascist, or the next incarnation of Mussolini, or other overwrought implementations of Godwin’s law, but I am not as dismayed by that aspect of his candidacy. What dismays me is that there are people who actually think he might be competent to hold the nuclear codes and actually try to govern. I can only think they are so disgusted and so disappointed in the government that they put into office, that they just don’t think it matters anymore.

I still have hopes for this country.  I still hope that we will again be a country of ideas and ideals.  I still think we have it in ourselves to be a country that is looked up to rather than feared, or worse ridiculed.

We can do better than this buffoon.