The issue with being overly optimistic
I am an optimistic person, I am a forgiving person and I see the silver-lining in things. I have a strong sense of right and wrong and I also have openly told people that I would never squeal on anyone as I never want to do that. I have broadcasted my 'snitches get stitches' and when it came to it they tested the ground and I didn't tell on them. I didn't tell that they had thrown me under the bus in front of the boss by leading me in a different (incorrect) path in work. I loved my job and at the end they were helping others in the team. Why could I not trust them? It was so confusing.
They were helping people I loved and they were even going out of their way to help them. It just didn't seem to translate for me though. I mean telling me something else and leading me down a different path is calculated, right? I remember the first time it happened. I had an entire morning even joining the group outside in the sunshine while they smoked. I was part of the fold, I was part of the team. We had a discussion about a team member going to our VP about some behaviour from our boss. The guys questioned me about it and asked me what I thought I would do and I got passionate. I got passionate about being a team and that we stick together and telling on someone is not something that is done. It is not the playground. We don't go tell on each other. We address the issues ourselves and do not go to the bosses to squeal.
That afternoon we had our standup meeting in work and as I stood there to explain to my boss what I had covered and thank my colleagues for helping me the previous week, my colleague interrupted and explained that I didn't do the work but something else. My mouth dropped. I was gobsmacked. I had been learning and only started in the position. I froze. I didn't say anything but I was upset. I couldn't believe that a team member stood there - the person who had helped me the entire week learning Android and went out of his way to spend the entire day daily teaching me this stuff would then turn to the boss and say outright that I didn't do the work that the boss had assigned.
The worst part was, that that was true and he (the colleague) had told me that he would let the boss know and that as I was learning that it was all fine. He would tell him that it was fine. Instead it was the complete opposite. I was so upset. I had trusted him. I had been learning all week with activities my colleague assigned to me and ignored the bosses tasks based on his word that he would tell the boss that he gave me activities to do instead.
One of the most toxic things that you can do is to ignore someone's bad behaviour because you love your job. You can choose to forgive and forgive easily, however, it is a case of whether the person will do it to you again or not. I have been in positions where I have forgiven and moved on and in the end the people have repeated the same behaviour again and the level of hurt sustained was unimaginable the first time and the second time was worse! I couldn't believe that they had done it again and I couldn't get over the hurt to forgive them for what they did. I mean I had told them this was painful, why would they purposely go out of their way to hurt me again if they loved me. Why would they put other people ahead of me? Why would they do it? Why? Just why?
The never ending questioning of why can lead you to spiral as you cannot understand why someone would do such a thing. Why they would lie and why you trusted them for a second time after they had said they wouldn't do it again. Why you had thought you addressed the issue and it wasn't addressed and why they were going completely out of their way for others in the team only to let you down over and over again. These were the people that eventually would snicker at you and call you names to your face and while the survival mode kicked in, you froze, and couldn't believe it was happening. It was a dark place but you remained so optimistic that you had been through a lot in your life already and loved the job that you tried to cope with noise cancelling headphones and separation from the team to work only without any personal details. It all happened quite quickly in the end.
A few months passed and you tried to remain upbeat and optimistic in the team. Going to work was challenging but you know, it was the job you had worked so hard for and loved. You had the qualifications. You would tell yourself you deserve to be there, you were qualified, it didn't matter if you got along with the team. You could go for a walk at lunch and take the time during the day yourself. You listened to music or speeches at night. Still exhausted and trying to cope, you read books, listened to podcasts and all the while not feeling very productive because you were exhausted and tired all the time. Struggling to cope but remaining optimistic - you had a job, you had income, it could be worse!
Being optimistic and upbeat and trying to watch comedy is one of my ways of coping but abuse is abuse and when it came to it, this was one example of something that happened daily over months and minute by minute something else would happen. Ignoring someone can have the same impact on your brain as a physical attack. The same chemicals are released. Ignoring something is one thing, physically hitting your chair passing you by and making fun of you isn't something anyone should stand for. It happens incrementally and you make excuses because you are in a job that you love and worked so hard for, you want to be a developer, you are still learning. You had loved this position. Your boundaries start to deteriorate. Slowly breaking you down and your confidence until burnout happens - see other post on burnout for more details!
Being overly optimistic can lead you to forgive the unforgivable or if you can't forgive, it can also lead you to ignore someone's bad behaviour and create a blindspot. You try to ignore it as the experts tell you to remain positive and ignore the bullies but this, in my opinion, should never happen. Creating blindspots allows us to act akin to an Ostrich, we can stick our heads in the sand, we can tell ourselves to focus on the task at hand, it's not that bad, we have been through worse, we can deal with it, the people don't know what they are doing, they didn't do it on purpose, you are still working in the job you love, you are still there, it is worth it, other companies will be the same, maybe I am sensitive, maybe the guys aren't that bad, maybe they didn't mean it... all of these create blindspots and you can be overly optimistic. This is damaging, this is undermining to you and your feelings. Yes you should cope and perhaps you are in a situation that you cannot leave. I read books and listened to podcasts about being in toxic workplaces. None of which helped as they all said that you should leave the environment. I thought it was fine but it wasn't. Anger and resentment and bitterness can take hold and twist your sense of being and your perspective as you suppress it instead of addressing it. It will overwhelm you. I have learnt this lesson already! Ignoring your feelings will only get the better of you and your life and will end up in a place that is not right.
Another toxic belief is to keep fighting through in an environment that is toxic. This is not helpful. All of the motivational videos will tell you that you must fight, you will overcome an obstacle. If you have an option to leave - leave! This toxic environment can rub off on you like the way you can put a rotten apple beside healthy ones and they all become rotten. You will too become rotten. It is contagious. Your sense of worth will decrease and you will attain some toxic beliefs as a result of being around people with what are known as 'dark personalities'. It is not worth it. When you read the book 'Rising above a toxic workplace' from Gary Chapman, Dr. Paul White and Harold Myra, all of them come to the conclusion that most people stay too long in toxic workplaces and end up losing confidence.
Separate the facts from the people and isolate these from each other to gain some perspective - this will help to see if their actions align with what they are saying. Oftentimes in toxic workplaces the boss will tell you something but do something else and in this case it was true. You will never win if the boss is not supportive. It's time to leave.
You were somewhere else before. You will get the money if you go somewhere else. Look for support! Find the other job! Get help, reach out to others that have experienced working in a toxic environment. Others will help you to see that some behaviours are not acceptable. Being overly optimistic can undermine your own feelings and you can bury them. This is unhealthy and they will come out and even in a misdirected, unguided fashion they will come out. See the post regarding burnout. Your brain will thank you if you leave. It will set off a chain of events to become a freer, happier, more fulfilling life if and when you do.
I know the things that I should have done to address this situation now and I will keep these lessons forever. I have let go of the past, I have forgiven - see post on the act of forgiveness, I have a sense of freedom that I had before this happened and I am not trapped from the anger and resentment that occurred as a result of being in this cage of hurt and abuse. Being trapped as an animal is the same as being trapped in a cage, you will lash out, it just depends on who opens that cage next that will get the repercussions. It's important to open the cage yourself, allow yourself to feel the hurt and pain to get to the forgiveness, learn the lessons and let go of the past. You will be free, you won't let it happen again and you won't convince yourself to be optimistic in times when someone is openly throwing you under the bus again! Never make excuses for someone's bad behaviour when it should not be tolerated. It's important to gain perspective from their perspective to gain empathy but excusing it is another thing. Forgiving is freedom and letting go of the past but keeping the lessons will give you ease.
Last year I went through a period of my life from around February 2019 onwards (it was actually September 2018 when I stood up to the guys asking them not to joke about rape at work but it wasn't insidious and my boss wasn't on board at that point) where I was experiencing high levels of stress. I was being bullied in work by my colleagues and some were doing things that were very strategic - hiding passwords that they knew so I couldn't progress and I'd have to chase to find them or ring old colleagues, hitting the back of my chair while passing constantly, outright telling me that I was stupid, unproductive, unfocused, sensitive and incompetent while masking it under the umbrella of 'I was trying to help you', joking about raping women and using the word rape constantly in a work environment and the list goes on. My boss was also taking me into a room for sometimes two hours per day telling me how I would never be as good a programmer as another colleague in my team and then telling me that I could work on the same task and improve it. He was continuously telling me that I was terrible and at the same time would give me compliments. It was really confusing. I was frozen and I couldn't move. Being called daily by colleagues stupid and not just by one but by three as well as your boss, you start to begin to believe it. I read books and they told me to ignore them. I would say NEVER IGNORE PEOPLE WHO ARE CALLING YOU NAMES. It sends a signal to your brain that it is alright for them to treat you that way. I ignored them and repressed the negative feelings in order to cope but I don't think anyone could cope under the circumstances. All day everyday if it wasn't in person, it was snickering and laughing loudly at me and the code I had written OR in instant messenger. You start believing that you are stupid.
I wanted to hold onto my job. It was my dream for a long time to become a Software Developer and for this opportunity to come along was a godsend! I was delighted to start into the world of Android development. I was happy to get going and start working on something new. I had worked as a Java programmer previously. I had even given lectures in C# development. I started with carrying two jobs as the previous position didn't want to let me go. This was my first mistake! I was under a lot of stress to preform from the beginning but hadn't the time to put in. I started taking things home and for my own benefit learn Android at home too. After all, I enjoyed programming and still enjoy programming in my spare time. It's like solving a puzzle. I love that aspect.
I had found an error in the live version of the application. This was my second mistake. I was given tasks daily to change and update the same existing section daily. I took it home nightly and would wake around 5am thinking about it. I would come up with a solution and then try to implement it the following day. My boss would want it straight away and I would warn him saying the solution will break and he would say, I don't care, do it anyway. My colleagues then would see the commits and complain that something was wrong. I was getting it from both sides.
I knew my niece was coming in the March to work for a week in work and I had a heavy heart around the time as my boss started to ramp up the pressure in work and bring me into an individual meeting room for up to two hours telling me that I was useless. There were also things sexual in nature which I won't repeat and this was the worst of it. It would wear your confidence, essence of your being down to your core until you crash. I was being brainwashed and I didn't know - although does anyone know that they were being brainwashed when they are being brainwashed. It took me repeating his behaviours outside in a social environment for the anger to come out of me and for his abhorrent behaviour to show itself inside me. It came out as all abuse does eventually.
Burnout had taken its town and I could not stop crying. I was levelled as a person. I was trying all my strategies to keep sane like watching comedy, making jokes, looking at the silver lining, concentrating on my goal, telling myself that it was temporary, focusing on the task but my mind was melted. I could not actually take in new information. I couldn't absorb anything. I was a nervous wreck and it was ruining my life. I was making terrible decisions. My mood was all over the place. I was trying so hard to be happy that I suppressed it instead of addressing it. I tried to stay upbeat and fought too long and too hard.
Eventually I couldn't sleep, I was so exhausted that I would fall asleep on the couch. I couldn't cope and wasn't coping at all. My immunity was low and I picked up everything. I even managed to get an ear, nose and throat infection and I had never gotten one ever before. I didn't even know that that was possible! I was exhausted but one of my ways of coping was exercise and I was too tired to push it. I would try to and feel better but then with lack of sleep and ruminating thoughts overpowering me, it worsened and wore me out. I could hear his words in my head and I couldn't shut them out. It was like he was inside my head all the time. I woke up thinking about what he had said in previous meetings and I couldn't turn it off.
I was working but I wasn't focused. I couldn't concentrate. I was actually unproductive. I wasn't initially but by this stage I was. I couldn't string a sentence together without analysing it and thinking it was incorrect. I was saying peculiar things that didn't make sense. Logic went out the window and my family life also had its own things going on with my niece being sick. I was so concerned for her. I had been a tuning fork for my sister and listened to her about her worries. It made me even more upset and worried and this was my final mistake. It was as if my colleagues bullying me had known that I was going to be unproductive. It was the case. I was unproductive and some part of you start to think were the rest of his words right? Was I stupid, like the way I was unproductive, was I also incompetent?
Abuse always manifests itself when it's suppressed. This form of abuse by my colleagues and boss found its way into my thoughts and words and eventually my actions. It was like an outer body experience. All I could think about was the insults that my boss had thrown at me in our two hour meetings and they became ruminating thoughts. They eventually came out to those around me and in my non-sensical, illogical, rhetoric to everything and everyone and the need to explain the most utter nonsense I got angry. It obliterated my being and my nature. It got into my mind and thoughts and eventually my own actions. I had lost control. By the time I had gotten to the doctor they had said it was one of the worst cases they have heard and I only had to say a few examples between the tears that were continuously pouring down my face.
The doctor took my bloods first and noticed that I was deficient in Vitamin D and had low B12. Vitamin D is linked to depression so a chemical imbalance was already there without the abuse from colleagues and an abhorrent boss. I am an optimistic person so I kept asking myself why and the doctor had given me a chance to visit them every week for the next six weeks but not to go to work. I had explained the situation and that I couldn't stop crying. I had never had this outer body experience and they explained that it was in fact normal. Abuse like that will always come out and your body reacted in a way that was a freeze response. You fought in the end, just in a misdirected way and your brain was scrambled. When they explained the science it made sense and I needed to get back on track. They had told me simply to take the supplements, go outside, do everything that 'brings you joy' and do not think of anything else.
I pulled myself together and organised the 10 friends triathlon. I didn't know how to swim so I pushed myself into learning something knew that didn't involve so much thinking as moving my body in the hope that my mind would catch up. I felt like not retaining new information for weeks on end was a bit like how someone might feel if they were to experience Alzheimers and I am all too aware of its impact as my aunt struggled and eventually passed away from this horrible disease. She eventually couldn't talk, walk or use the bathroom on her own. We thought she would recognise us and she would smile when we'd visit but in the end we don't know if she did or not as she couldn't communicate. It is the most frightening experience I will and have ever experienced. Your brain is like a butterfly and cannot concentrate and for someone who earns a living from having a good working memory and brain in order to program, this was also my own livelihood and identity.
Part of me felt this fear and disgust for these men and another part of me felt so sorry for them because we should have a society that prevents these things from happening. Unfortunately I couldn't go back to a place where I was always going to feel unwelcome. I started to rebuild and get back to my life and back to my level-headed self that has some balance in a safe world. My safety had been threatened so my heart was starting beat faster and I had already been through two heart operations so in the end I had to leave my dream job go and take the time I needed to heal.
The time over the following months was productive. I learnt to swim, made friends, organised weekly training sessions with them, read a lot (my brain started to be able to retain the page that I had read so I could read the next one, previously I would read a page and have to re-read and sometimes re-read a second or third time), I ran, went on two dates (they were also awful but an experience nonetheless and that was enough!), I swam, I met up with friends for lunches, I learnt German and I eventually did the German examination. I started a new job in November and worked on a new project as a lead Software Developer. I started belly dancing and trying new things like painting some artwork as well. I received my results from the B1 German examination and to say that I was validated and relieved is an understatement. I was so happy I had some tears in my eyes. I knew I did well but it was just icing on the cake to have it as a piece of paper. I was delighted. I can safely say that this won't happen again. Some might ask why didn't you leave, it was bad timing. I was in debt, I had some health issues and couldn't move at that time. I felt trapped and that feeling of being trapped will always make people doing some irregular things that are out of character like an animal being trapped when they are normally subdued or serene will eventually attack back when they are abused. You just need to look at nature to realise this. While I defend my actions now, I am remorseful and really sorry for the actions that hurt people. I exploded and blew up to the wrong people. It was a case of being close to me at the wrong time when I had what can only be described as burnout. I have learnt so much and I am grateful that it happened then when I could still manage to do things, meet new people and challenge myself. Although my life blew up, I left an environment that was toxic away from the sexism that I experienced and abuse that I endured to live an even better life now that I could ever have dreamed of. It has given me the strength and courage to do things that I would not have done previously. I have made friends that I will have forever and we made strong bonds over their own experiences that they had in their previous jobs that were similar. I found what can only be described as a serenity within me and a confidence that is unshakable. I am a creator of my life. I am in control of my thoughts. My brain is working and I am at the point in my life that I love my life right now. I love the peace that I have right now. I have created better healthier boundaries. I can't even describe how many more lessons and better experiences that I have had since then. I know that in a way, if I didn't go through that I wouldn't be here now. For all those that are experiencing bullying or mobbing they call it in Germany and sexual harassment in work - it will come out, the anger must go somewhere, the sooner you come out of this period of your life - your best life awaits. The abuse might be sugar coated between insults and compliments which makes the body go to survival mode and if you are optimistic it will keep you from addressing the core issues because you will convince yourself when it's good that 'it's not so bad' when it is bad and things get worse and worse until it's too much to handle. You will be stronger having learnt and kept the lessons from the past but let go of the abuse. Surround yourself with positive people that build you up and not tear you down. Move on, be your own creator and remember how much you have overcome. Never repress your negative emotions, stand up for what you believe in and it doesn't matter if that means going to your bosses boss - even if it against all that you believe in. DO NOT IGNORE ABHORRENT BEHAVIOUR - IT WILL CONTINUE! Never repress negative feelings to focus on positive ones - they will get stronger and result in emotional flooding! FORGIVE YOURSELF FOR YOU KNEW NOT WHAT YOU DID! They didn't break you, they made you stronger.
Dodging energy vampires - An empath's guide to evading relationships that drain you and restoring your health and power - Dr. Christine Northrup
You can heal your life - Louise Hay
The gift of forgiveness - Katherine Schwarzenegger
How to be human - Ruby Wax
The Highly Sensitive Person - Elaine N. Aaron
Burnout - the secret to solving the stress cycle - Emily Nagoski, Amelia Nagoski
Mindset - changing the way you think to fulfil your potential - Dr. Carol Dweck
Grit - Angela Duckworth
Braving the Wilderness - the quest for true belonging and the courage to stand alone - Dr. Brené Brown
The Happiness Advantage - How a positive brain fuels success in work and life - Dr. Shawn Achor
Unity and working in Industry
It seems like a lifetime ago since I wrote the PhD although it stays in my memories forever. It was a challenging experience and while I am really proud of creating multiple games. I can say that I have started in Android development having little to no experience of it. I had spent a long time figuring out what was Unity 4 and C# within Unity and having made the change to Java and Android development I feel like it is a different kettle of fish.
I find myself looking for better code, more efficient steps, what are the best ways to use git, what does industry say about using cherry-picking when on a particular branch. Why making code more efficient can help the application. Tracing back through the top level app to the Android Operating System (AOSP) and looking at the Dalvik virtual machine that was used initially as a way to use Linux kernel in AOSP. How Dalvik is now not used in the later version and what happens to the efficiency of the software. Software re-usability is key and while inheritance is used within the code, it seems there are parts of the code that can be seen as customised in particular parts.
I have now worked a lot with the MVP or MVVP architecture for one feature and I have to say, it is easy to read, reusable and most importantly for here has reduced the amount of code used for one feature. It has reduced 10 separate files to four even with the addition of one for a separate page calling a new intent, it is still a lot less.
I am reminded of the PhD and trying to understand what I did, where I did it and why I did it and reading the abstract it doesn't show as much of the code and ins and outs that I struggled with. It didn't really expose the amount of sleepless nights and hours sitting in front of a computer forgetting to eat in order to get the WiiMote to connect to a particular Windows machine using a Broadcom driver and not realtek all within Unity. The hours spent reviewing Will Goldstones Unity videos while the Unity Learn feature was not available on their site nor was the GUI of Unity 5+. I had a look at the appendices of the PhD and thought I'd have more code provided in the design document or anywhere else but it seems not to be the case. I guess, it was the plan afterwards to commercialise it so I kept that to a minimum.
Feel free to read the abstract below - you can tell it was hiding a lot more of the technology that I thought at the time. The last line of the PhD I am happy said the following:
“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”– George Bernard Shaw
I feel like this stands true today more than ever after the PhD. It seems I have to also change my mind towards learning. I have challenged myself and found myself being a little 'beaten down' by industry and the 'showing off' nature of code or the putting down of code from past colleagues. I am learning and I am also learning that I love coding. I want to code, I love hardware and software and learning new things. I enjoy the thrill of getting something to work and spending hours trying to figure something out. I love working with my headphones and listening to something uplifting while feeling like a whole day is gone in a minute. I am in flow and I am engaged with my work and I am here to stay. I love technology too much to give up on it easily. I am ready to keep going and keep doing what I love and improve every step along the way.