Career life Reflections

Emotional Roller coasters, and Being Less Neurotic

Coca-Cola Thrill Ride
© Copyright Carol Walker and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

It has been a crazy couple of weeks. The highs have been… high. The lows have been… low. Some of the highs and lows have come with associated “I don’t suck as much as I thought!” and “argh I’m an utter failure” emotional turmoil. Some have just been happy. Some have just been really, really sad. And so I haven’t been writing, because it seems like the thing that is on my mind, I’m not ready, or willing, or able to share. And yet, every couple of days that thing changes. I’m overjoyed… then a few hours later I’m in tears.

Which makes it sound like I’m going insane. I’m not. It’s just life has been… eventful.

I got my review for the quarter, and it was good. And then I went off to the Grace Hopper Celebration. Where as last year, and at every conference for women, these themes emerge. A big one being – self doubt. Feeling like you’re not good enough, smart enough, hard working enough.

And I get that a lot. I felt inadequate when I started, I felt inadequate all over again when I switched teams. I felt inadequate for… other reasons, and then I was anxious about how my review would be because I had switched teams mid-quarter, to my third so far.

But I’m happier, my new team is awesome, my (original) manager is great, and I’m getting the things I wanted; responsibilities I was looking for, the kind of thing I’m excited to build, support from my lovely teammates. It’s good. My review was fine. I’m in a good position.

And so at GHC I realize how much nervous energy I was expending on being anxious. And maybe, after my toughest quarter yet, I should acknowledge that I’m doing OK, and if I keep doing what I’m doing for a while, I’ll make it to the next place I want to be.

One of the other themes that comes out, is about working smart not just working hard. Which is ironic, because one of the things I’m prone to beating myself up about is feeling that I don’t work enough. I work a very reasonable 35-45 hour week; I’m pretty ruthless about carving out the time I need to create, and write code, and pretty realistic about when I’m done and just going home. I don’t tend to hang out at the office.

The other thing I realized – is that that is okay. If at this point in my career I feel I need to work a 50+ hour week in order to keep up, how do I progress?  If I could easily work an extra hour a day without hating my life, surely that’s a good thing? When I need it, that hour a day will be there.

Until then, I can spend it… reading novels, in the gym, writing, running things like Girl Geek Dinner…

I’m sure this won’t be an overnight change, but I’m trying to take a deep breath and stop beating myself up. I’m doing okay.


6 replies on “Emotional Roller coasters, and Being Less Neurotic”

When I first met my husband, I was in awe in his ability to stay calm all the time, never seeming overly excited in one direction or another. Then we got a whole lot closer, and actually, he turned out to be no different than me, just quieter about it. 

I am pretty sure we are all the same, sometimes feeling great about ourselves, and sometimes consumed with self-doubt. And I am absolutely sure that communicating this, being honest about it, as you are doing in your writing, is a whole lot healthier than presenting a persona that doesn’t match the swinging pendulum.


I recently discovered your blog and I am extremely happy that I did! I agree with Meggin’s comment below – we are all the same.During my graduate studies I took a course called  “The leaky pipeline”
The course allowed women from all fields to come together and talk about ‘Why there are such few women in science?”

One issue that was repeatedly brought up was how we tend to associate even the slightest of failures to our professional lives or achievements.I have since then made a conscious attempt not do that.

I have read a few of your posts and think that you are awesome! Hope this comic makes you feel better

That blog is awesome 🙂 thanks!

Yeah it’s true, the unfair flipside of that is that we attribute success to luck or help from others. At best, “hard work”. Whereas guys, when good things happen tend to do the opposite – when they succeed it’s “well duh! I’m Awesome” and when they fail it’s “how could I be so unlucky?”

It’s something I continually work on too 🙂 thanks for the reminder that it’s not just me!

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