Am I an imposter? Is this just the result of a syndrome? Who… What… Where am I going with my life?
He wondered through the slippery streets towards no destination in particular. In a certain way this made perfect sense. His life felt the exact same way, wondering towards an unbearable and dark unknown. His footsteps splashed the remaining rain running through the cracks of the pavement. His hand tucked away in his pockets. Not because he was cold, but because he didn’t know what to do with them. Reflexes of passing cars created an eerie ballet. The fading lights of the city didn’t help much. He was alone with no direction to follow. He was lost.
How many of us feel like this sometimes? How many of us get lost in our darkest thoughts and lose track of what life really is? Is this a good or a bad place to be in? Can we get anything positive from this? And why do we allow ourselves to do down like that?
It sure doesn’t feel good, does it? Some of us go even deeper and darker. Some don’t make it back.
Let me start with a story…
I was a prospect photographer. I studied photography for three years. I walked around with a camera all day (a film camera) and developed my shots every night in an improvised lab in my bedroom and bathroom. I loved it. And soon after I started working. Small gigs at start, them bigger and bigger. I stocked up on cameras and lenses, tripods and filters, flashes and bags. And I ended hating it. Most of my gigs were taking pictures of corporate events. I loathed it all.
Then I discovered the web, back in 1995. I could take my work, my art, and show it online for everyone to see. It was wonderful. And I learned how to code. And soon after I started working in IT. Slowly going through the ranks all the way until I became CTO of a large company. And I hated it.
Something must be wrong with me, I thought. Why do I thrive on everything I put my sights on and end up hating it?
I went back to coding and then discovered I had a special knack to manage teams and projects. I was not a particularly good developer but I understood how and why people impact project management and vice versa.
And them came Agile. Starting with a Scrum workshop in 2009, I feel in love with it. The focus on empowered people blew me away. So I studied and thrived once again. Along the way many ups and downs just as most.
Fast forward 10 years and I am an Agile coach, a trainer, a mentor, a consultant and, sometimes, a miserable guy. Why? Because I find myself walking along a dark, slippery road, hands in my pockets and with nowhere to go. I am that guy wondering where is my life going. I feel empty, soulless, without a purpose in life. And an imposter.
The thing is that everyone, sometime, somewhere, somehow, will end up feeling this way. In this day and age, a job is something that is not for life. Life itself is faster, immediate, with no time to lose and no time to flavour anything. You travel faster. No more enjoying the road. Just get there! You eat faster. What happened to three hour meals? That’s a luxury item! You learn faster. I’ll take an online course and I’ll be certified in two days! But then… Then you end up not knowing where or how you got where you are. And worst, you find out you don’t have a clear path, a clear destination. We live by the minute, the second even, and have no time to ponder what we really want to do with our lives.
And that’s exactly when you need to focus. That’s the perfect moment. When you find yourself hands in your pockets, walking aimlessly towards nowhere. Stop. Breathe. And remind yourself of who you are. It’s not easy and sometimes (most of the times) it will hurt. Bad. But it will make you rethink, reset, restart, reborn. Find a purpose. 1 purpose. Just one is enough. Something you love. And focus on that. Work like a bitch. It will continue to hurt. A lot. But you’ll get there.
I know there are external factors that may influence everything. Money, family, the government, bosses, and so on. We can work miracles. But we can focus on what we can do. Hell, there’s a solution for everything except death. And even that we do not know for sure. As long as we are breathing, there’s always a way. Focus. Be humble. Sometimes we need to ask for help. Don’t worry about it. You already have a NO for an answer. Just go for it. Walk the mile. And the extra mile. But go. Just go. Or, as a known brand would put it: “Just do it”.
What I find curious about all this is that most of the times I feel like this it is because I have too much things on my plate. Not because someone force them on to me. Because I did it. I end up taking too much. And then I lose sight of myself. Why? I don’t know. Maybe I don’t like being still. Maybe I’m just a fool. All in all, I, as everyone, need to know my limits. One dark walk at a time.
As a final thought. I am not trying to evangelize anyone about anything. You should do what you think is right for you. Whatever works. I wouldn’t be much of an agilist if I tried to impose anything…