A swirling soup of ideas
In my last post, I wrote about struggling with mental fog due to excessive cognitive load. One of the reasons it happens, as I discovered, is that there are a lot of ideas and concepts have been in my head for months (or even years) now.
I have spoken about those to friends and acquaintances from time to time. However, it hasn’t helped most of the times. First of all, I don’t have a lot of friends. Not because I’m depressed, but because I’ve been an introvert most of my life. Second, I’m very selective in choosing friends; even prudish to some extent. I do have a lot of acquaintances but very few friends.
Some friends of mine who have the intellectual capacity to deeply understand these ideas are busy with their own stuff and really not interested in discussing ideas. Yet others are people with whom I have burnt my fingers previously because of the randomness and chaotic behaviour that was a part of our previous interactions. I’m not sure if speaking to them is a great idea.
Another factor is that in the past couple of years I surrounded myself with a couple of people of the wrong kind. These are people who always talk (or rather gossip) about other people, never about ideas. I have noticed those who talk more about other people rather than their ideas are usually insecure, mean and whatever they say or do, has to be taken with a truckload of salt. Fortunately, I have started distancing myself from those.
Other friends of mine who don’t have the capacity (due to their intellectual prowess or simply because they’re not familiar with the domain of my thought) to deeply understand and critique my ideas have been rather helpful. They’ve forced me to reanalyse and re-structure my ideas so that they are clearer and easier to understand.
With this limited reach (or audience or sounding board), my thoughts and ideas have continued to swirl into a messy soup, intermingling and confusing each other and creating the unholy mental fog that I wrote about.
In almost a month now, I have got zero productive, paid work done. I’ve been on a trial with a very large-hearted and empathic employers and initially when I joined, I got a lot of awesome work done. In the last month or so, I descended into the fog, bounced back and relapsed very quickly. It’s very unpredictable and chaotic. Businesses cannot afford such chaos. So, I’m not sure how this job’s going to pan out.
About a year ago, I was in this exact same space (although emotionally I’m much stronger, less helpless and less scared). I wasn’t able to hold on to a full time gig. I lost out on two awesome gigs one after the other, couldn’t finish the trial.
I figured that the only employer who’d be able to work around my unpredictable emotional state would be me. When I’m clear, I can get a lot of work done. When I’m foggy, I can’t write a message properly.
Training is an exception
Another thing that I know about myself is that training and speaking on a stage come to me very naturally. You can wake me up from my sleep and tell me that I need to speak on a topic or take a class (of course, related to my field), I can be ready in less than 5 minutes and do a great job. Even in my worst downtimes, I have been able to teach. Maybe not with as much enthusiasm or energy, but I get the central idea across and learning objectives covered usefully.
I’ve done that so many times in my life in so many fields, that it’s become similar to cycling.
With those thoughts in my head, I sought training opportunities. I quickly found one and started planning my professional life around it. I wanted to conduct paid courses, I wanted to build an eLearning solution and I wanted to conduct professional events. For my training activities, I wanted my participants to get some real world client work, so I wanted to have a little agency on the side that could be slower than a regular agency in terms of turnaround time (because it is done by trainees under supervision) but really cheap, at the same time.
I was on track and going ahead well enough.
Then some of my friends got interested and joined in. Soon, the plans went topsy turvy. I don’t like confrontations and I wasn’t really assertive. I wasn’t a good leader. I kept changing the plan as per the rest of the team’s wishes, even if I was unconvinced (It’s difficult to have confidence in yourself, when you’re down). I had a vision, a very clear one, but even after trying multiple times, I just couldn’t get the rest of us to see it or trust it. That didn’t work out well.
Now, I feel like I wasted a year of my life, slogging my ass off for things that I didn’t believe in, for people who didn’t believe in them either and for various reasons, didn’t come through when they were needed, repeatedly.
I was and am with an unstable mind. I had hoped that working with stable people will help in operations. I could work in the realm of ideas, my partners could work in the realm of reality. Turns out, it wasn’t a great idea. The business’s graph followed my emotional state because I felt I was doing everything. I f’ed up, as usual, but with honesty and transparency was able to salvage most of the f’up’s. When the others f’ed up, there was no reason or explanation. I maybe completely wrong here. If you ask one of those (ex-)partners, I’d be the one carrying even the blame that I won’t accept.
I decided to get out, when things started getting extremely petty. I didn’t have a lot of funds when I started and I really didn’t invest much money. All I had was my mind and my time. However, working in multiple roles and taking on multiple responsibilities, partly because I don’t like things not happening for no concrete reason. If no one will do it, I will. It kept overloading my mind and I kept crashing.
Now, I’m back to square one. Broke, lost and a year behind.
The week of purge
A couple of days ago, I decided to purge my mind of all this cognitive load. I decided to write everything and put it out in the world. Right now, I can’t express how light I feel after publishing a couple of concepts and tutorials for things that have been swirling in my head, taking up a lot of space.
At work, I need to finish some content, that’s really simple and not a lot of work, quantity wise. However, with the constant cognitive load, I have not been able to focus or finish my tasks, that ideally should not take more than a couple of hours.
Why? Let’s see. In the last 2 weeks, I wrote about 3000 lines of code, then completely rewrote those 3000 lines of code, again, twice. That’s about 9000 lines of code. I wrote a tutorial to go with it, in 5 parts, totalling about 4,500 words.
I followed it up with another tutorial in 2 parts, totalling about 5000 words, dozens of screenshots, a git repository and a spreadsheet.
Can you imagine all that information, sitting in my head, swirling around – 9000 lines of code, 10,000 words? There’s at least 10 to 15 times of that information still left in my brain, swirling around as I write this, refusing to take a backseat or disappear.
Once I finished my first tutorial, I felt the lightness of being without those thoughts. They were out, in text, concrete and I put them out in the world. Purged.
I finished the next one, more purge.
I’m writing this post, more purge.
So, that’s what I’m going to do, purge. This is the week of purge.
I’m not sure if I’ll be able to hold on to the job that I’m trying at. I’m not sure if my employers’ patience or more importantly, their business needs would be able to bear with me.
I’m not sure how I’ll make a living here on. I’m not sure what the future holds for me. Right now, I’m going to purge as fast as possible, clear my head, try and finish my tasks and bounce back into the game. Even if I fail and lose the job, I’d hopefully have gotten out of the fog.
Even if I don’t, this is at least better than sitting around and staring at the fog as life around me goes on, time passes, things get worse and the stress of it all adds further to my cognitive load and the fog and I end up lost.
I don’t want to lose. I’m going to try not to.