Psychoanalysis and the Palm Zire

palm-zire.jpg I have some new insight on the Palm Zire I bought last week.

As I was talking to my shrink today, I mentioned buying the Palm and not the PocketPC as an example of the “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” mantra. Au contraire, he countered, it’s actually the perfect example of not wanting to move out of my comfort zone. I’m too afraid to try something new.

“Michael,” you say, “Surely your choice of what PDA to buy isn’t nearly that profound. You picked a the best product for the amount of money you wanted to spend, so don’t try to read more into it.”

Maybe not. My therapist might have stumbled onto something important here. So much of what goes on in life is completely beyond our control. Sure, I’d like to delude myself into thinking that I can control my own destiny. So I gravitate towards the familiar. It gives me comfort. It doesn’t challenge me. The status quo is just dandy. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

When I got my annual performance review last month, I was really surprised. Exceeds Expectations. What’s shocking about that was I wasn’t giving it my best. Not even close. So what the hell? How was it possible that I was exceeding expectations?

Perhaps I’m so talented that a mere 50% of my effort still knocks their socks off? Fat chance. More likely everyone else is doing a lousy job because the company got so huge and nobody knows what they’re supposed to do. The fact that I average about 20 lines of code a week and can reply to emails within one hour looks good in comparison. Corporate America is all about predictability and mediocrity. Anyone who does too much or tries something too new threatens everyone around them. So I’m doing my part; I’ve got the mediocrity thing down cold.

But I’m afraid to do more. I don’t want to take it to the next level. And I’m not just talking about my job here. I’m talking about the emotional and spiritual stuff, too. What would happen if I really was committed? What would that look like? I’m freaked out about what’s behind door number three.

So I resolve to fix myself by embracing my anxiety head-on. (How’s that for a 2-weeks late for New Year’s resolution?)

Even though it’s going to bring up a bunch of shit that I’d rather push deep down inside of me and forget ever happened, it’s far better than the alternative. The way I see it, if I don’t confront my fears, I’m either going to end up depressed (ha, as if I weren’t depressed already) or the anxiety will fester, magnifying itself to a point where things really start to fall apart.

6 thoughts on “Psychoanalysis and the Palm Zire

  1. Jeremy Zawodny

    There is a very cold wind blowing thru the halls of of Y! these days.

    It used to be that I looked forward to going to work each day for so many reasons. That stopped a while ago and I got annoyed and depressed. Then I revived an old hobby/fantasy from my high school days. Now I have something to look forward to each week. Something that challenges me to learn and grow. It’s quite refreshing to have that feeling again.

    As for the “wow, I got a good review and I wasn’t really trying” bit. Yeah, I know what you mean. It’s happened to me in my last *two* jobs and I’ve only recently begun to understand it (or at least think that I’m understanding it).

    Maybe I should be in business for myself. Or working for a small company, like I always said I’d be.

  2. Gabriel

    Maintaining a healthy ecology of life– that’s such a huge thing. Balancing spiritual, emotional, and work-related stuff. It’s funny how you spend so many years in school, and no one every teaches you any of this, even though it’s probably the most important skill you could learn. Thanks for having the guts to talk honestly about real life.

  3. Shannon

    facing all the demons head on is one of the most difficult thing one can do in life, but also one of the most rewarding. I wish you the best of luck!

  4. Techno


    Reviews are more political than practical. If you do well, it’s because your boss believes that you’re providing some form of value to the team or company, whether or not you happen to be performing above or below “expectations”. I learned that lesson years ago when I was doing government contracting and my boss simply didn’t have the right clearances to know what I did. (Funny story that, my mandetory weekly activity report during that period was: “Did something. It may or may not have worked. Will either do or not do something next week.” Yeah, at least my boss got the joke.)

    Frankly if your unhappy with your job or anything in your life, change it. Time on this planet’s far too short to simply mope about things. If you’re not feeling challenged, make up a few. If they’re legitimate and you can properly sell it, the boss will usually green light it anyway.

    You’re not a slacker, nor are you one to shirk responsibility. If you were, you wouldn’t care.

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