(I think about this a fair bit even as a 22-year-old because I want to
know my values, and reflecting on my values helps me see opportunities
in which to practice them. I don’t obsess about it. It’s just that I’m
used to thinking out loud, so I find it easy to write about things
like this. =) )
One of the thoughts I took away from last night’s Social Tech Brewing
session is both discouraging and reassuring: we really can’t have it
Reassuring because I am not expected to even try to have it all—but
discouraging because I am multi-dimensional and stubborn and want
it all anyway!
Many people address this problem by dividing their lives into stages:
single-mindedly focusing on business, then developing their personal
lives and finding their meaning when they’ve established themselves,
when they have enough. Or the other way around: building their family
and deepening their ties to the community, then returning to the
workforce when the children have left the nest or when they’ve
accomplished something meaningful enough.
But what is enough, and what happens to the rest of their selves?
I believe I can have the strength to walk away from opportunities.
I’ve done so before, and it gives me great pleasure to pass those
opportunities to other people. (It often works out much better, too!)
Still, I see how it’s difficult for my mom to disentangle herself from
the business and pursue other things that would enrich her life. I
also see how it’s almost impossible for one of my friends to abandon
her family and pursue a career.
I am more than a technologist. Social conditioning or not, it makes me
happy to lift someone’s mood with a smile or a hug, just as it makes
me happy to make someone’s day with a snippet of custom Emacs Lisp
code. Sometimes, the best thing I can do with my time is to write
about my research. Other times, it is to take a friend out for a
massage and listen to her intently. I hack, I geek, but I also mediate
and nurture, whether I do so by teaching or encouraging or listening.
If I choose to focus on one aspect of myself, how will I nurture all
the other aspects of me? I will not have a life that addresses only
I want to be myself every inch of the way, even if it means walking
slowly as I figure out each step.