The wheels are turning, and the train has left the station; issue number three is coming your way! I'm almost inclined to say that this newsletter is going places. Thank you to everyone who read the last issue, as it's your support that keeps me wanting to make these.
Without further ado, what will we be discussing today? Escaping your comfort zone & death. 💀
You ever had a song stuck in your head for days on end that you can't seem to get over no matter how much you listen to it? I was watching a few promos for the CBS show Ghosts, and I found the background music incredibly addicting to listen to on repeat. The song was Ghosts by The Head and the Heart.
The song discusses those who talk about leaving their hometowns to follow their dreams but never end up doing so.1 This resonates with me because I left my family, friends, & life to chase my dreams in New York City, and it involved a lot of sacrifice from me & my now fiancé. I constantly went back and forth on whether or not leaving or staying in my hometown would be the right move - no pun intended.
Ultimately, I decided to move to New York City to pursue a job, and in hindsight, I believe it was the right decision to move away from home. The experience pushed me wildly out of my comfort zone, which led to personal growth in many facets of my personality and opened up some incredible opportunities that I could not have imagined otherwise.
Comfort zones are like home bases; they should be present when we need to fall back on them, but we should not spend all of our time in them. The only time you are actually growing is when you’re uncomfortable. We must actively seek out growth opportunities and new experiences to build up our comfort zones. Then, with enough experience, we can find ourselves comfortable in most situations.
I'm not advocating for everyone to move away from where they are now, but I found myself comfortable and complacent in my previous living situation; I needed a change to grow more fully. Find new activities, communities, or even locations to push yourself to be better than who you are today.
Remember that who we are tomorrow depends on who we choose to become today. Making small decisions each day/week/month can lead to significant changes down the road that will allow you to be more successful.
The goal of escaping our comfort zones is to become a more complete person than who we are today. One of my favorite lines from the song Ghosts is the following:
"Mom and Dad, if only you could see me now
Been here for a year and now I own this town
'Cause I've changed, I've changed, I've changed, I've changed."
The songwriter explains to their parents that while they were away, they have changed - hopefully for the better. I want to think that the line "I own this town" is a symbolic descriptor of the writer's confidence growing as they've taken on new challenges elsewhere. In other words, by escaping their comfort zones, the writer can return to their hometown as a more fulfilled & complete individual.
I always feel a weird juxtaposition when I go back home now because it feels like stepping into a personal time capsule. I left for New York City to start working for Bloomberg back in 2018, and although it wasn't a long time ago, I've grown a lot as an engineer and person.
When I come back home, people occassional still see me for who I was when I left for New York City, not who I am now that I've been working & living on my own for 3 1/2 years now. I understand that I still have much more to learn about myself, but I can also look back and see the incredible personal growth that I've experienced since moving away. Trying to merge these two identities is something that takes time, but it provides a clear-cut picture of how I've changed over the years.
I feel it's critical to self-reflect on our personal growth every once in a while on who were are today vs. who we were X years ago. I like to ask myself if I am living up to the aspirations of that previous version of myself. How closely does our past's imagination of our current self line up with who we really are today? Would we be proud of ourselves? Impressed? Concerned?
Thinking about ourselves retrospectively is just as important to me as thinking ahead because the past helps dictate the future. I'm fortunate enough that I developed some solid personal goals early into college, and I've been able to pursue many of them. For example, this retrospective thinking influenced my latest job switch because I wanted to work on something that younger me would have been more proud of, and Heroku seemed perfect for that. It was the platform that I deployed my first apps onto while I was in the early days of learning how to program, and it helped me grow as a developer. I'm not sure if I'd be where I am today without a tool such as Heroku, and now I get to tell others that I work on the same product that helped me grow into who I am today! That's pretty neat, and I know that the college-freshman version of me would be blown away if he knew that I'd be working on this stuff today. I hope that my work with Heroku helps individuals just getting started, the same way it helped me many years ago.
One of my favorite Twitter accounts is a bot that posts the same tweet every day; You will die someday.
You will die someday.— Daily Death Reminder (@death_reminder) January 14, 2022
It is a healthy reminder that I could be using my time more wisely while mindlessly scrolling through my Twitter feed. These tweets from @death_reminder line up with the ending bridge of the song Ghosts where they begin repeating the following line:
"One day we'll all be ghosts
Trippin' around in someone else's home"
And both of these phrases - the song & Tweet - address the same issue; we are living beings who will no longer be on this planet someday. Some people avoid thinking about the finite nature of our existence, but I feel like we must come to terms with it to get the most of life.
Life & death are unpredicatable; one could win the lottery tomorrow or die from unexpected circumstances; both have a non-zero probability that we must accept. The thought that we might not be around tomorrow should push us past our comfort zone today!
The second line of the song I quoted about - "Trippin' around in someone else's home" - is interesting because I like to think that if we were ghosts, we would be in our own homes since that's where we spent most of our time, but the song clearly states someone else's home. This idea brings up a good point about death; our identity will be lost over time as younger generations fill in our shoes & create new lives where we now live. This thought seems scary at first, but I like to view it both as a challenge & as a promise.
All of this can be summed up by a phrase that one of my previous mentors would tell me quite often; What do you want your legacy to be?
Do not be afraid to fail, do not be scared to take calculated risks, and always be true to yourself. Take the chances that your younger self would have wanted you to take, and work to be the person who you dreamed of becoming all your life. You only get one shot at this life, so don't let it go to waste. Instead, make the best of your current situation, and find the small steps you can take each day to become the next version of yourself.
Last week's win was getting my first company blog post out there. It's one thing to write under my name, but to have the name Heroku attached to it is unreal. It's pretty crazy to me, and I know that 18 year old me would never have imagined me writing under the Heroku product name.
In a non-technical win, I went snowboarding for the first time on Sunday, and I wasn't horrible! I could make it down the bunny hill with some decent speed, so I'll take that for never trying it before. With that said, I did bite it pretty hard a few times.
Last week's struggle was me running out of steam mentally. I feel like COVID & different stresses finally got to me. I feel like it's been personal event after personal event the past few months, but with the added effort of work & trying to build a startup simultaneously. All of this thrown together has just burned me out for the time being.
This Twitter thread really hit home with me because I relate to the feeling of I Cannot Let People Down and working myself to the point of complete & total exhaustion.
I was told that if I get burnt out, I won't be able to do anything, so I should rest.— AutisticSciencePerson, MSc (@AutSciPerson) September 23, 2021
What I didn't say because I was still thinking it through,
is that when I get burnt out, I go on for weeks or months more because that is expected of me and I Cannot Let People Down.
Check out some of the posts, articles, and stories that I found interesting over the past week.
Since I already posted that one a bit here, I recommend also checking out this two-day JamStack conference that discusses the current state of high-performance JamStack tools such as Gatsby, Nextjs, and Hugo.
Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'
- Martin Luther King Jr.
Take care, everyone!