Hack Away No Matter the Mood!

I’m still up with my portfolio. I’m trying to get to a minimum viable product stage with my portfolio, but I keep wanting to tweak every project I spin up and review. I know I should just suck it up and post it so I have examples of all the different things I’ve learned how to use, but there’s that voice inside me screaming, “NO! It could be so much better! Don’t let it out into the wild yet! You’ll never get hired with this junk!”

I’m shaking my head at myself, though. I need to remember that shipping is better than tweaking. It can always be better, but a working project is 100% better than the ideal project that only exists in my head.

I am reminded tonight about Ira Glass’s wonderful advice to beginners. You can watch a short version here (seriously, take two minutes and watch it. I’ll wait…). The answer when I was struggling with understanding concepts was to just do the work. The answer when I’m running out of money and need to get that job is to show the work (or to “ship it” as they say).

I think as an adult it’s hard to be a beginner at anything again. It’s hard to not be instantly great at things, but that’s where discipline and maturity have to step in and shake you. It’s humbling to not be the all-powerful master of Rails, but I have to remember what people who want to employ me are looking for.

Honestly, I’ll get hired because I know how to manage and work in teams, and because I am a pretty level-headed guy who never really panics. I love to solve puzzles and I love to make people laugh. I know it’s not true, but I keep thinking somehow people won’t care about that stuff and will only judge me as “not an expert,” and shut the door on me.

I left a good job behind to go to school and I’m leaving a great community of friends to go seek my fortune. I guess the anxiety’s catching up with me, but the only way to fight that is to push through. When I sat down to blog a few minutes ago, I only did it because I made a commitment to blog daily. It’s already past midnight, so I gave myself the excuse that it wouldn’t technically count towards my commitment.

I just wasn’t in the mood. But to that thought and to myself I will quote the great Gurney Halleck by saying, “What has mood to do with it? You fight when the necessity arises – no matter the mood! Mood’s a thing for cattle or making love or playing the baliset. It’s not for fighting.” Mood is not a thing for writing or coding or any type of work, creative or not.

It’s just when you start blurring over on the creative side, it gets to be so much easier to romanticize the endeavor. The first 1:20 of this scene from Spaced, before Simon Pegg was Scotty, illustrates this romantic ideal what happens when you buy into the romantic ideal perfectly. But the romantic part isn’t necessarily the work itself. It turns out that work is actually hard work (Surprise!). The romantic part isn’t even, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” I think your twenties exist as a set of test cases to pretty much disprove that theory.

No, work is hard. But the romantic part, if you’ll let me use that phrase, is twofold. First, when you find something you really like doing (even if you’re not great at it to begin with) you’ll put in the time and effort. It’s still exhausting, but you never feel as satisfied as when you complete a task, or learn something new, or even have an engaging conversation with someone.

Second, when you have the privilege to choose to do something, you have to realize that’s a really romantic state of affairs in and of itself. You’re in luxury territory simply by having a choice. And although having too many options can be weirdly crippling at times, when you intentionally choose to do something difficult and actually finish share it? It just doesn’t get better.

When I hit the publish button for this post, I’ll probably go straight to bed. It’s been a long day and I need to wake up early to start working again. But I’ll also be able to go to sleep, knowing I’ve made serious headway on a few projects and actually finished the task of writing today.

Do the work (I’m talking to me here).

Do the work (OK, now I’m talking to you).

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