Adam Smith
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Running backwards

Running backwards

May 28, 2022

One of those phone memories came up the other day, you know, the ones that you rarely want to see because it reminds you of some distant time. Some algorithm is guessing that this photo is going to bring back some nostalgia that will, in turn, keep me on my phone longer. At first glance, they nailed it. There it was, a picture of me in front of some mountains way up in Banff, Canada. There it is right there, give it a look. I was alone, driving around one of the most beautiful places I had ever been for weeks on end just looking for grizzly bears and enjoying life. 

The initial feeling I got when I saw that was shitty, how have I let my life get so far away from where I was that day. I was free. I was happy. 

The problem with that is if I look past the face in that image.. me looking free and doing what it is that I know my soul desires, I realize that I know that guy too well. I know that he was dealing with a laundry list of anxiety about his present path and the uncertainty of his future. I know all of this because I lived out those anxieties and have the gift of hindsight to know how it all played out. It feels so easy to romanticize those glimpses into my past. It’s easy to tell myself that I was happy then, that all I needed was to be outdoors. It’s easy to gloss over the glaring reasons that I chose to give up that life. 

Impostor syndrome, for me, is feeling like the inside doesn’t always hold up to the outside. That the internet version is better than the real thing. Like a lot of people, I think it pushes me to present more of the curated experience while generally hiding the real thing behind closed doors. I can’t say that this feeling has eased up since I started my software engineering journey, there is plenty to make me feel inadequate while learning something so vast and new. It’s hard for me to make the connection that I am the person who did all that fun stuff and that I am the person that has lived every part of this new experience. Sure, we level up at different rates, but I’ll be damned if I can’t feel the difference that all this hard work has made. 

I know that the person in that photo was no different or better than me, and I know that it is impossible and irrational to try to get back to being who that person was. The only thing to hold onto is the experience that I’ve had since that day. The things that made me happy, the things I learned.  

The truth of the matter is that guy in the photo was contemplating the end of the adventure that he was on. The guy writing this today is just beginning a new one, one that will also hopefully involve seeking out grizzly bears.

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