Self

Introspection has become one of my guiding processes this year.

A few years back, I was visiting a friend after a long time. He asked me if I wanted to drive his car. I said okay. As I was nearing the driver side, he asked "Are you still angry?"

It was a question from the left field. "What do you mean?", I replied. Though I knew what he meant, I couldn't process the fact that someone asked me that question. Nobody has ever asked me that. Even I have never thought to ask myself this. It triggered many questions within me.

Why did he ask me this?
How did he know this about me?
How did he think to ask this?
Did he go through similar situations in life?
Did he know someone who went through this?

It ended up with me thinking about the core thing of it.

Why am I still angry?
Why am I angry at all?

This line of thinking stuck with me for a while and kicked off my journey into self. Rather than hating myself or my circumstances, I started learning more about myself. I started to see the silver lining in my failures. I realized my failure was a perceived failure. It was as if a cloud cover was coming off to reveal a beautiful day.

Yet, I lived with anger for a good while after that. The reason was that while I could understand my anger, I had no control over my it. I didn't know what my triggers were. I hurt quite a few loved ones even years after my first realization. I could justify some of my outbursts, but I did not realize the emotional impact on others and myself.

There was one incident where I wasn't able to respond to a team member despite empathizing with them. For some reason, my heartbeat raised a bit when I was about to react to their request. After a few times of this happening one thing became clear. The trigger was my expectation of how the collaboration should be and not the team member.

I anticipated the next interaction. I slowed down my breathing and responded with facts and did not let my "expectations" hold sway over me. After the interaction, I remember being in good spirits for the rest of the day.

This incident afforded me the knowledge that it is possible, with some hard work, to be a calmer person. I recollected the above conversation with my friend. I could see that I needed to work on my anger.

Soon, it dawned upon me that it is hard. How could I show a calmer demeanor in a stressful and emotional situation? How could one behave the opposite of what they are feeling?

I realized meditation, mindfulness, stoicism and zen habits may help. Since I have already some experience with it, I decided to apply mindfulness. My rudimentary understanding of this technique, so far, is to

  • slow down your perception
  • understand what is being consumed by your relevant senses
  • analyze how you are now feeling and how you are about to react
  • then respond rather than react if in an interaction with other person

Responding means to actually respond to the other person in a calmer and a collected manner. Use only facts and not opinions. It is as if you would reply when completely sane. Think of being in a job interview or in a live TV show.

Thank you Swapnil for asking me that question. It changed my life.

Productivity

I removed my Netflix subscription after catching up with all the major series. As expected, this has resulted in a significant increase of personal time.

I use Sync for Reddit and removed all the subreddit subscriptions including /r/all and /r/popular. I have yet to find a way to do something similar for HN.

Lesson learned — Making good habits beats seeking productivity.

Work

I started learning react.js. My explorations and adventures with .NET Core and all surrounding technologies have resumed.

I happened upon an opportunity to prepare for a super technical whiteboard interview. I failed it, but it was one of the most exciting moments this year. This experience helped me understand where I stood w.r.t. algorithms, data structures and problem solving. I took to these websites like leetcode and codewars to try and solve a few problems.

I couldn't continue my work after a while on the freelance side project I took up last year. It was a heartbreaking decision to stop working on it. Lesson learned — Be more ready for such work.

Bye 2018. Hello 2019.