Stop apologizing for who you are (unless you're terrible)

posted by Jeff | Saturday, July 8, 2023, 5:31 PM | comments: 0

In the last week or so, I've found myself intermittently spending my free time binge watching The Newsroom (for the third time) and the new season of Jack Ryan, but also going back to that little curiosity lighting project with the codez. For reasons that I can't exactly describe, I love this (potentially stupid) idea of making software that controls lighting from a web browser and can do effects and programmed things. I've proof-of-concept-ed it to the point that I think it can absolutely work with a fair level of stability. Not sure if you could run a big rock show with the underlying engine, but you could easily do any standard theater show with a few more tweaks.

Cool, right? Maybe not to most people, and that's fine, but I'm into it, and I want to keep at it. But I keep feeling like, "Why am I not doing other things, like [list here] instead?" And then I get bad feelings about it. That's kinda bullshit, right? What difference does it make if I get really into something, even in a quasi-obsessed way? I can tell you where that feeling comes from. I've had a number of relationships over the years, familial, personal, romantic and professional, where I've been the subject of scorn for this sort of thing. The subject matter varies, from video games to photography to experimental coding at work to other stuff.

Here's the thing, I get keyed in and hyper-focused on things sometimes. The casual, non-professional may observe this to be obsessive behavior, but they're wrong. As I now understand, more than ever, autism and ADHD can often make this situation real, and for the person, it's a way to experience some level of joy, contentment and safety. It may be a little antisocial, too, but whatever. I can tell you that my brain feels better by having these intermittent bouts of focus on things no one else cares about. Why should I feel bad about that? I can't really explain what the outcome of these endeavors are, if there are any at all, but again, so what? I shouldn't feel weird about doing something that I enjoy if it doesn't hurt anyone else. As I said in one of those previous posts, some people make furniture, and good for them. This is the stuff that I do.

I'm very much exhausted for apologizing for who I am. I am tired of the cultural expectations that say what "normal" is and what I "should" be doing with my time. I like to do things that no one else does. So what? The things that I do, and the things that I truly believe, do not harm others.

Let me focus a little on that last part. Because there are some people who insist that they must be their "authentic, true selves." Here's the thing, if that means that you are actively causing harm or marginalizing other people, who you are is terrible. Let's stop pretending that authenticity is something that should be valued when it hurts others. It's not OK when it comes at the expense of others.

And I'm gonna blog more about my code project that no one will care about. That's fine.


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