Gen Z

I am a big fan of Gen Z. I know that this recent mid-term elections are influenced by them and they played a critical role in stopping the said “red wave”. But in addition to that, I have had many opportunities working with them in various places.

In my previous job, gen z were the most eager to learn and test out new things. They were so open to input, feedback. The super interesting thing about Gen Z, in my opinion is that they are super talented and don’t take them that seriously. So, if one connects with them with the not so serious part of them, then we would learn more about the skills part of them.

In my current job, recently I had an opportunity to meet a couple of my colleagues who are Gen Z. They all are so super talented, humble and open minded. The value system is liberal, freedom and caring about planet. I came back from my trip being thankful for being able to work with such great humans.

Here in Oakland, I had an opportunity to get involved with local org either with learning more about blockchain or volunteering for Oak. In both cases, those revolutions and change are being led by Gen Z! It’s pretty impressive to be part of those communities and watch the Gen Z lead.

I for one am happy to work with Gen Z and have great faith in that generation!

The Year of No

Couple of years ago, I decided, inspired from someone doing it, to say yes to things that mostly put me out of my comfort zone. It was a roller coaster ride! I had some amazing experiences – like fishing in Alaska, improv classes, and some other not so memorable experiences. I called it the year of Yes.

2020 was not easy for anyone on planet Earth! Even though I can find a silver lining in all of it – it was clearly the most over whelming year for me and my family.

Past week, we all took a much necessary break from our work, chores and zoom calls and spent time in nature in Yosemite. As we reflected on the year 2020 – I realized that my energy, attention and focus has been shredded past year and the most intuitive way of building it back is to trim a lot of unnecessary things in my life.

The obvious ones stood out – like things, objects of desire, technology, twitter doom scrolling etc. I was comfortable to commit to myself to turn my life more analog and less dependent on tech and all the distractions that come of it.

One of the things that saps my energy off is – taking on too much work, responsibilities and later regretting and hating it. In short, it is very hard for me to say NO. It comes from my upbringing and a lot of other things that sound perfectly reasonable when laid out bare. But the nagging thought for me during the self reflection was – I was able to sustain the uncomfortableness of saying yes to many things, now can I do the most dreadful thing that I am scared of!? Saying No.

Obviously I am not taking an absolute path of just saying no to everything. But what I am realizing is I need to say no to things that I feel are not worthy of my time and would not grow me in any way. By doing so, I might actually end up with a core part of me which I have been looking for some time!

The main reason why I can’t say no is – to appease others and maintain this false image of always being helpful and nice person. It’s fake and I know it. But there has been no pressure on me to change it. And by complying to be a yes man, I have come to not know the core me. And as this has gone way too long, I have created so much numbness to my real self, that I don’t know who that is.

So, as I mulled these thoughts and talked it over to Sangita and my family – I realized that if I choose this coming year 2021 – to be a year of No, I might actually come to meet my core self.

I know it’s going to be hard. I know I won’t like the feeling. And I would need help of family, friends and books to be able to understand this and how I can do it.

I am dreading it and looking forward to see what changes it brings in my life.

People who make you feel small

I have been thinking about this recently. I had great experience working at a Client’s place (consulting) – but every aspect of that work was great. I was respected for who I am and encouraged to do anything that would align with Company’s ideal.

In contrast, I was reminded of a shitty experience I had in my previous job. When I thought more about it – I realized that in that scenario – my boss was just petty, close minded, probably racist and what’s most annoying is he always made me feel small. He would say things that were weird and his work style was always passive aggressive.

Of course he is human and prone to mistakes but now that I look back – his response to other employees in the team was not as the way he would respond to me. He had his favorite employee and also favorite go to person with everything. He was a good analyst but not a great manager. One of them who got promoted consistently because of his tenure at the company. He acted surprised time he got promoted.

But of all the things he did, the worst experience I feel I had was he made me feel really small. Like my ideas or thoughts didn’t matter. I switched roles from frontend dev to data knowing its going to be hard and he was ok with it, but never in those years was that he came by to help me out career wise. He was too much into his own world and his own life. Which is fair, but being a bad manager he was not clear enough to parse his own aspirations with his team members.

I see a pattern of what he did. Made me feel not belonging and just not appreciative. I worked hard to impress but it never worked. I was unhappy and after a long time quit the job because there was no growth in it as he was restricting any growth I can have.

The big lesson for me out of that is to be wary of people who make you feel small. The identifiers of that are – they never appreciate you, they think whatever you do, it was supposed to be done already, they have favorite team members and they lie to your face and never let you climb that ladder of growth and promotion. Oh also they act as if they are surprised that they got promoted, just out of no where accidentally.

It took me few years to understand this kind of abuse and now I feel like I can spot it and avoid those toxic people.

I am lucky to be part of my current company which has consistently put me in projects where I am seen, recognized for my skills and appreciated for what bring in as value.

Please avoid the the toxic people who make you feel bad. Life is short.

Job Interviews & Imposter Syndrome

I was talking to my friend who has about 18 years of industry experience predominantly on and around Java stack. He has many certifications and is totally capable of building, running and maintaining a production level software project – working with a team of people.

He mentioned that he has been interviewing and was surprised that how even after all these years people ask him questions about syntax of writing code. It’s like they ignore all the experience he brings and over looks all the success he had with delivering projects – but get hung up on how well he can write a Java annotation example or the difference between abstract class and an interface.

He mentioned that most of the interviews he can coast easily but some of them end up make him feel real bad. Like put the insecurities back into him – which he worked on all these years. He was shocked after one interview, he felt totally useless about his work and had to take a break and think deeply about his career path.

I think software job interview process is broken. I think there are sometimes, we miss the forest for the trees. I understand how complicated the process is. It takes months to co-ordinate people and resources to get them in one place to make it happen. I believe we probably have better tools to solve dating than job interviewing.

And from my experience it feels like it all comes down to timing and luck! Which it totally shouldn’t be and it’s huge loss of time and energy for both sides. I have been to interviews where because of miscommunication, the person interviewed me for a completely different position and the HR realized it only after the fact.

The tech screens are horrific! Giving me a chance to prove myself everything I have done in my career and everything I can do in 30 mins on a coderpad boggles my mind. I have learned like my friend – to say no, to tech screens which basically assign the most easily available person in the company to screen (likely on a short notice) with an overly used tricky problem set (invert a tree, find a duplicate) and using those 30 mins to kinda yield a fake power over an anxious applicant.

Given how fast the technologies & tools change (remember Apache Storm? Lambda Architecture?) – it’s really impossible to keep up for any person in this field. But when we are being tested – it’s kinda assumed that the person who is applying should know everything about the subject, including the arcane stuff which he/she will never use on the job.

So, my discussion with my friend naturally went towards imposter syndrome. In Silicon valley, it feels like everyone is on the edge – playing the imposter game and ready to be stripped of the title, honor, dignity in any given job interview. It feels like, everyone is working hard to hide the fact that it’s literally impossible to keep up with the ever growing technology and are pretending to be know it all and playing safe, meekly walking around and scared of being found out as a fraud.

My friend pointed out that job interviews actually promote and perpetuate imposter syndrome. Which I think he has a point.

The things I am really good at it is – thinking in big pictures, connecting the dots and fast learning. But none of the tests they put me through in the job interviews test that. Once in a while I come across someone who is aware of the broken interview process and sees past me not being able to syntactically write something correct on a first attempt (That’s what an IDE is for).

As we talked more, we realized that it’s our own responsibility as an applicant to be honest and strive to keep our confidence when going through the interview process. Because at the end of the day both the applicant and the company are trying to see if they are fit for each other – but in this case, we are using wrong metrics to measure the fit.

Shrink Wrapped Me

I have learned something new in the past few months. It’s very critical for me and I am kinda obsessed with it. To put it in simple words – we all have 2 things going on. One, what we are doing (or what is . happening to us) and another – how we go about telling a story about it! It makes all the difference!

Yuval Harari is extremely right about how we humans use language to create fiction and weave stories and if I can extend on what he is saying – we fill our world with fiction stories and tell them repeatedly to people around us.

What I didn’t know was simple. I thought if I speak what feels true to me – I would be ok. But, to my dismay I am realizing more and more that people don’t want my true story – people love it when I package it in a nice bubble wrap. It’s fascinating to me, when I started to count the number of people who would rather have my true self and true stories – it literally came down to single digit number! I mean I have more people in my life, who would rather want me to wrap my thinking, vulnerability in a shrink wrap and give it to them than give them the real deal. Also, these are the same people who would talk around in circles and keep it safe.

I think it’s ok. I am not judging them. But what’s happening to me about that bubble wrap is that – these people mean less and less to me. I actually have started avoiding them. My work and what I do mean a lot to me – but it has been so unfortunate that predominantly my work is filled with people who would rather have me bubble wrapped than be talking about work, meaning etc

I am getting used to it. But on other hand – I am also building this core group of people I open up to and be who I am. It just means that some times it’s going to be lonely. I am ok with it – as I think it’s ok to be honest and vulnerable with few than be fake with many,

Speaking my mind

I have always had trouble speaking my mind. The few close people who know me well, know this already. I always think I have two issues with speaking my mind. One, what if I am wrong? Two, What if the other person doesn’t like what I said? These two bookends dictate my life – social, personal and professional. I struggle with it everyday.

Some of the stories I tell myself to make myself feel good about this are – I have a lot of people who like me because I seem to agree with them, I don’t have any social embarrassing situations where I cringed myself to death.

This is a problem. I am working on it and at this moment don’t really have a coherent plan of action. But I just want to get this out of my head and admit. I know that my life would be far far better if I speak my mind and ask for exactly what I want. My life would be efficient if only I encourage only the things, ideas and people who matter most to me.

I feel that being agreeable all the time has turned me into a fake. I am pretty sure people have noticed it but I feel like a fake in those moments. It’s ironic – when I feel smartest in the room, I act dumb to help other and fake I am lost and when the room is filled with smart people – I fake smartness and fall for that empty feeling. In either case, I could be myself and leave others to decide who I am relative to them. But the things I do, not to speak my mind are scary and fascinating!

I don’t have any big proclamations to make. I am in awareness phase – becoming acutely aware of my problem and how inactive I am in that area. I might end up losing a lot of friends and not be popular at my work. But I think at the end of the day when I closeout, at least I don’t have to keep tabs on things where I need to be careful with some person or situation – I can just be me.

That to me feels like a relief.

Safe Places

“Daddy it’s too hard, I can’t do it”, said my daughter to me.

I followed up the cliched response -“It’s ok baby, you can do it”

Then it hit me…..

I can’t teach my daughter what I don’t know.

We were at her gymnastics class. She just moved on to next level. New teacher and a harder routine. Balance bars, flips and non-stop activity for 1 hour.

From outside it looked great to me as a parent that my daughter moved on to next level. No change in my schedule, I still keep taking her to the class at the same time. But something has fundamentally changed for my daughter and I wasn’t paying attention to notice it.

This happened last month. Since then I have been taking her to the same class every Saturday and trying to convince her to fight it. To be honest, it hasn’t been going well. She comes back crying half way through – some times I spend 30 mins talking to her just to get her to attend 10 mins of class. Those are hard moments for me and I am completely split during those moments.

I spent a lot of time since then thinking about what is it about failure, that freaks me out and avoid it. I mean the reason why I didn’t have a great supporting response to my daughter was – I don’t know how to respond to new conditions that freak me out and fail me immediately. I have been cocooned myself past several years in safe places where I am welcomed and there is nothing at risk. It’s a great place to be, but on the other hand – it had made me complacent and abhorrent of taking any kind of risk.

So to be able to honestly answer my daughter – I looked back in my life and found 1 thing that I have been scared of all my life. Swimming. Growing up in India, I never got any opportunity to learn swimming and I never made any attempt. But after coming to this country I felt like I can learn it easily, but never attempted it as I felt like I never need for it.

So after a lot of internal chatter – I joined a swim class. Boy it kicked my ass! I realized I am scared of getting my head under water. I feel completely scared to get all the way in water and I panic a lot. So far I have attended 2 classes and I fucking hate it – but I have decided to not to quit and keep facing my fear of risk.

I still don’t have any answers to my daughter. But at least I am in a place where I can sympathize with her. I may suck at swimming and can’t take it anymore but I have decided to face it no matter what – so that I can learn how to face my fears and be able to talk to my daughter about it when she actually needs my help.

I realized that the safe place I call home is limiting me in my personal growth.

Drama Therapy

Last week, I did the unthinkable! I went in to attended a Intro to Drama Therapy by Living Arts Counseling┬áIt was a tough day, Friday evening, I couldn’t get out of work till late, didn’t get a chance to eat dinner before I went in, had a kinda busy day. I had every reason to NOT go! Apart from my palpitating heart as I walked in – I had to just block out the fear and show up. And super glad I did it.

Drama Therapy is unique in a sense – that it’s based on the fact that our bodies record and store every emotion we feel. Be it good or bad – our body keeps the score. And we live in a world of action – doing things and experiencing emotions. The concept is by acting out the actions and replaying the events of past in our heads – we can re-visit those emotions we felt and thereby maybe get a second chance to look at them objectively. The idea is grand, but the process is work! Since it’s a intro class – I get to witness and participate in some of the core activities of it. The instructor was amazing – she made me realize how some people can live life fully!

In 3 hours, my heart got unraveled. I was cut open up like a fruit and on came those emotions. In that span I went through some nostalgic emotions (remembering about my visit to my grandparent’s place during my summers), falling in love (with Sangita & again with my daughter) to fear & anger (about not being accepted as I am by my father and how in one instance I missed to get one more mark, to make the cut, in a test I took when I was 12). It was raw and intense. I couldn’t feel anything for a day.

Sangita has been asking me to go for a long time. She did it long time ago and it changed her life. I always thought being an introvert and how scary it is for me to act out my feelings, let alone talk about them – would be very difficult. It was difficult but the outcome was totally worth it! It’s like a language – which gives access to all locked up emotions and trauma in our bodies. This mask we wear day in and day out is shed among a group of equally trauma inflicted people and in a very safe environment. There were moments where I wanted to leave halfway through, but being an adamant asshole I am I stuck to it and refused. There was this one act – which is called “I want it, you can’t have it” – that rattled my heart out! I wanted the facilitator to call timeout, as those 3 minutes felt like aeons.

It was very insightful – kinda assured me of my own belief that all the answers that I seek lie within me. More and more in my body locked up as emotions. I am not sure if I will do a full course, because it would mean opening up past wounds and feeling completely lost and raw. A part of me thinks I can and a part of me is scared as hell.

4 people

I feel like there are 4 people who live in me.

  1. The wild child – This is the core part, but predominantly hidden. This is the most fun part of me incidentally – but the downside of this guy is – he is so deeply hidden it takes copious amount of alcohol to bring him out. But once he is out, he is fun. Like to think up wild things and will cross every frigging line there is in humanity. Unfortunately a lot of my friends love this guy – so being sober is hard when there is such a demand for him! Oh I also love the beer!!
  2. The Mundane Normative Guy – This is the guy who predominantly lives most of my life. He is the one, who takes care of the family. Who shuttles his daughter and her friends around parks. Who shows up for her kids activities. Who pays the bills, takes the garbage out, recycles, pays taxes, follows the speed limit, automates his life around with widgets and gadgets. The good guy who loves his family and friends.
  3. The Analytical/Intellectual guy – This is the guy who keeps tracks of societal change, reads up about stuff happening around the globe. Parses what’s being reported in media. Doesn’t believe everything he hears. This guy judges, analyzes, summarizes. Nothing is sacred for this guy. If there is a holy cow of anything, this guy will put it on a grill and eat it. Very divisive thinking, but also has the capacity of breaking stuff down to basics and being creative to draw conclusions.
  4. The night time Shaman guy – This is a very secretive part of my psyche. Deeply embedded as the wild child. This guy doesn’t respond to alcohol, but lone time. As I sit alone with my thoughts and think about bigger stuff, when I look up at the vast sky and feel the sensation of Universe staring back at me – I know it’s this guy.

The imbalance I have realized is – the mundane guy has millions of people he can relate to. The wild child – has enough drinking buddies to hangout with. But the analytical guy has very few options. It’s been such a long time this guy engaged in an intellectual banter with anyone. He misses it. He feels like the world is getting dumber and dumber – iconized and minimized to an app based culture of chasing virtual stuff around. The analytical guy can’t stand the stupidity that keeps pouring around him. The spiritual guy – is totally alone. Just sitting there – in awe of the immenseness of this beautiful world around him, but none to share it with.

Neutral Now

As I meditate regularly, I see a pattern in how my mind wanders. It’s best represented as below.


My mind wanders between future and past. It continuously reviews the events in the past – reliving the bad and good ones and fearful about the future or numbing myself with fantasy. As I continued to watch these thoughts and after a great long time came a period which I call “Neutral Now”

Neutral now isn’t new – it’s just a habit of observing my own thoughts as they emerge and shuttle in the above matrix. As the habit strengthens – it becomes easy to just acknowledge them and let them go. As I let go of these thoughts, feelings, emotions, trauma etc – my mind settles on something which feels like a forever moment. Like time stopped and focus stood still. That moment is fleeting but it’s there and that feels soothing. I think great amount of healing happens in that moment. I try to get to that point as much as I can.