on quitting & adhd & everything else
I’m 28 and I’ve gone through life all this time not knowing I had this disability, just thinking everything was supposed to be as difficult as it is. And just thinking that everybody struggles, like I struggle. And finds things hard, finds things that should be really quote unquote simple, but finds it really hard to do those things.
Hello! And welcome to Lost in the Source. I am your host Lola and it has been a minute. Thank you for sticking around. I have been looking at like the analytics for the show and people are still listening, which is great to see. I am back proper now. I started a new job, which I’ll be talking about in a little while, which does give me the flexibility to, or rather the time, to that record episodes and edit episodes. So that’s fun. I quit my job again, hence the new job, I’m still in uni, I’ve been diagnosed with ADHD in this time, which I will be talking about a little bit. And also later on in the episode, I do want to talk a bit about diversity and inclusion and all the hoopla we’ve seen recently with places like Google and other places, especially in the aftermath of last summer. But happy new year, because it is 2021 now and really 2021 is just 2020 in a new coat so far but I guess we’ll see how it goes. All right, so, I guess I should just start from the top. I don’t know how long this episode is going to be, I don’t want to make it too long though, s o, yeah. But starting from the top last year I was working at Heroku, which is a company that simplifies the deployment process, for your applications and the whole idea is you go to Heroku when you want to deploy an app, but you don’t want to fiddle around with servers and things like this, you just want to chuck the app online. Obviously, it’s not that straightforward, but that’s essentially the thing and when I started, I was a Support Engineer that wasn’t the official title, the official title was Principle Customer Something Something, but essentially I was a support engineer and what that entailed is a little bit of coding, not loads, a little bit of coding, a little bit of documentation writing, internal and external documentation writing or rather, help guides, and a lot of debugging a lot of looking at charts and metrics, a lot of looking at error messages and following the trail. And this work was fine. It was flexible enough where at the time I could do my degree and do it full time. It was challenging enough and it was interesting enough. I think I’ve spoken about this on a podcast before, but I don’t need to be passionate about my job. My job has a purpose and that purpose is to give me money so that I can pay my bills. I don’t need to be super passionate about it, I do need to be engaged with it but not everything that I’m engaged with am I passionate wit h , so as long as I’m getting paid enough to live and as long as the environment is healthy and not toxic I’m usually okay you know.
Now, things were fine, things were okay, things were good. And then last year, I think I said this in the last episode I got sick. This time last year I was really, really sick and I was off sick for like two months. And when I got back , you know, it was kind of like, all right, I need to kind of get back into things because, and this wasn’t coming from my manager or anything, this was just kind of like me, I need to get back into things, I’ve been off sick for a long time. And my manager had, my old manager had left so I had a new manager and my new manager was somebody who was a peer before so they got a - I don’t know, within Heroku, being a manager isn’t a promotion, it’s more of a lateral move, like a horizontal move into a different track - so they became my manager and they were cool. We didn’t really know each other that well, we hadn’t had much time together but they were cool, at the same time I was doing my uni work, exams are coming up that summer so it was like juggling Uni work and juggling work work and doing work work initially was fine. I came in and I smashed all the, you know, goals and things, metrics like internal metrics for how well you’re doing, and that should have been a red flag to me. The internal metrics are always a problem to me because they didn’t really reflect much, they didn’t really give the insight they purported to give and they are very easy to game and also very easy to not really show if you are doing a lot of work really realisticall, right and so I came in and I smashed those metrics and then my productivity dipped when I had my exams, naturally. And a lot of that was because I wasn’t at work so I had taken time off to do my exams and this was something that everybody was aware of, it wasn’t a shock or surprise or anything. So when I got back from my exams and during the exam period, I was also working though so if I had an exam on Monday, I would take Monday off, but then Tuesday I’ll be back at work and then if I’ve got an exam on Wednesday, I’d take Wednesday off but then Thursday, I’d be back at work, that kind of thing, I was still working. But obviously for the days I wasn’t there my productivity dipped and so that also dipped my metrics, my numbers. And so I had a conversation with my manager and he was like, yeah, your productivity has dipped, but he said he didn’t want to bring it up yet and everything because, you know, maybe it’s not that important and it’s just my exams. And I was like, well, yeah, I expect my productivity to dip because of my exams or whatever. And I think for me, that was when I first started feeling like, okay, kind of uncomfortable in a way. Because even if it wasn’t because of my exams, the dip in my part productivity at that time, wasn’t like your productivity is not a straight line, do you know what I mean? It’s going to be like a wave, so there’s going to be peaks and there’s going to be troughs kind of thing. So I think for me that, was the first time I kind of started feeling like, okay, I don’t know if this is the best place for me, personally. Like I know a lot of people find that kind of stuff useful, I don’t know if it was the best place for me. And I spoken to my manager about like the metrics and stuff, and we had actually decided to work on a project together that would review the whole metric process and basically try and make it fairer and also try and make it more accurate. And that project, I did quite a bit of work on it initially, but then it’s kind of difficult - and my manager was very supportive of it - but it is also kind of difficult when you’re working in a team with different working styles and working ethics. My team was completely distributed, so I had like a mini team in EMEA, but then the wider team was spread out all over the place. We had people in Australia, Asia, America and across the different American time zones as well. So it was quite spread out and it’s hard to - all those places have different working styles, working expectations, and it’s hard to kind of reconcile all of that into one way of working. And I didn’t want to do that work of trying to convince people and it wasn’t my work to do. And so after awhile I started to become really unhappy in the job specifically, I remember after my exams and I was just doing my dissertation or thinking about my dissertation and I remember being really stressed. And I said to my manager, “I’m really stressed and, you know, I’m not even stressed about uni, I’m stressed about work. I should be stressed about uni cause it’s my dissertation, you know, but I’m not, I’m stressed about work”. And I took some time off and things were a bit weird when I took time off. I won’t go into too much detail because I think my manager was just kind of out of his depth a little bit. But things were weird when I took time off and then I got back , I had a conversation like a one-to-one with my manager and I didn’t go into that one-to-one thinking I’m going to quit today, I just went into that one-to-one to talk to my manager, let him know how I was feeling and then hopefully, you know, we will figure things out, you know, along the way, find a working method that’s conducive and effective for everyone. And in that, one-to-one, he let me know that he heard me and everything and he’s thought the best thing for me would be to go on a training thing , a training course kind of thing, which is what they do. And I told him this sounds like a performance improvement plan. And he said no, this isn’t a performance improvement plan and when I asked what the difference was he said, this is what you do before performance improvement plan. And I was like, okay. And we ended the call with the mind of I was going to do this thing then I was just sitting and thinking to myself and about 10 minutes went by and I was like, actually I don’t want to be in this job anymore. I know how to do my job, training me how to do the job isn’t the problem, the problem, are the conditions that I’m working in and if there is going to be no effort on the company’s behalf to change or adapt those working conditions to fit, to accommodate me then that’s okay, but I don’t have to stay in that situation. I’m not saying the company has to rehaul and change how they do every single thing for me, but I also don’t have to stay in an environment that is not healthy or conducive to the way that I work, right. And this is not to say these people are bad people or whatever the case may be is just say, it’s not a match for me anymore. I called up my mom and I was like, I think I’m going to quit and she was like, yeah, go on then and so that was pretty much it. I messaged my manager and I asked to talk. And we spoke and he really wanted me to stay and like, try it out and I kind of just explained, like, the issue is the working conditions and the working conditions aren’t going to change and so even if I passed this training thing, what happens six months down the line, when I’m back here, then I actually go on PIP and cause they’re going to look at my file and be like, “Oh, she’s had training”. So anyway I also didn’t quit blindly - well, I did quit blindly because I didn’t have a job lined up, but I did assess my finances and stuff and I made sure I had enough money to live on for a few months, pay my rent, pay my bills all that kind of stuff for a few months. And the way my mom had kind of said, it was like, look, even if you run out of money or whatever, then I can just like move in with her, which really wasn’t an option but you know, it’s an option still, you know what I mean? It’s more than a lot of people have. So I was like, okay, cool. And I quit that day. And they gave me kind of like a, a few weeks notice period to give me time to look for another job and things like this, which I thought was kind of my manager. And then I did get another job pretty quickly actually. And that’s the job I’m in now. So all of that to say, I work for SamsungInternet now. I’m a contractor them at this moment and I’m on a six month contract. I decided I wanted to go contract for a few reasons, mainly travel, but then COVID, so that’s not happening.
But I worked for Samsung Internet as a Developer Advocate, and if you don’t know what a Developer Advocate is, it’s basically somebody who advocates for a company or a product. So if I have my company, which is called biological substances - you can tell I’m reading something - my company is called biological substances, right, and what we do is we test people for things, right. If I had a Developer Advocate or any kind of advocate, they would be promoting the word of my company. They would be doing things like writing blog posts about what we do or cool things you can do with us. They’d be making videos, tutorials, they’d be going on podcasts and speaking about it and things like this. So usually you’re advocating for a product or a company at Samsung Internet things are a little bit different because while we are advocating for Samsung internet (which is a browser you can download on your Android phone) but it’s more about advocating for the open web and advocating in for better web practices and things like this. So like a lot of the tutorials and blog posts you’ll see on the Samsung Internet Medium page is stuff like I wrote a tutorial about creating an internet connected phone that had nothing really to do with Samsung Internet, the browser, but had everything to do with using the web in an open way that wasn’t like privatized or anything like that. And the actual Samsung Internet browser itself cares about like privacy and you know, putting the user first and all of this. And so yeah, my job is basically what a developer advocate would do. So podcasts, like this one, blog posts to tutorials, but also getting involved with web standards and other things I’m probably going to talk about web standards and other things in like a new post, I’m sorry, not a new post, a new episode, another episode, but yeah, that’s pretty much what we do.
And this job for me has been kind of like a relief. I mean, it’s only been three, four months, and if you’ve been listening to the podcast, you probably know that like I’m apprehensive to kind of go gung ho and be like, “Oh my God, this is the best job in the world”, but it has been three, four months and so far, I’m still happy. So, and I’ve got like another two months, so there’s been like four months, I’ve got another two months in my contract and things are good. T he nature of the job kind of fits better with who I am as a person in the sense that like how I work and what I mean by that is while everything was going on at my old job I decided to get tested for ADHD because I realized that I identified a lot with the symptoms and signs of ADHD that I’d been reading about, I had being s eing a lot of people are online were talking about it, particularly there’s this woman who does comics, Danny Donovan, if you, if you’ve never thought about if you’ve had ADHD or anything, like I would check out her comics her comics are really cool. And they put things in perspective for me and it’s actually something I did speak about my old manager. And so I got tested for ADHD and it was like, yeah, you have it. And that moment for me was like rah. I have gone through life, I am 28, and I’ve gone through life all this time, not knowing I had like this disability, like just thinking everything was supposed to be as difficult as it is. And just thinking that everybody struggles, like I struggle. And finds things hard, finds things that should be really “simple”, but finds it really hard to do those things. And so it was like a really kind of wakening moment for me, but it also resolidified the fact that that team, that particular team at Heroku was not a right fit for me at all and it would just kind of you know, inflamed my anxiety and kind of feed my anxiety when it comes to ADHD and things like this. So I was just like, knowing I have this, that’s good. And there’s also part of the reason I wanted to go contract because going contract, you have shorter times at companies, so you can change things very quickly. One of the things with ADHD is like, you need to be constantly engaged in what you’re doing, or rather I need to be constantly engaged in what I’m doing. And after a while things get boring and when things get boring, it’s harder to engage, it’s harder to do those things. And with being a Developer Advocate because you’re doing so many different kinds of things no week looks the same. You’re writing blog posts, you’re creating tutorials, you’re coding. I’ve been working on the Samsung Global Goals app and that has just been coding, implementing Stripe and you know, things like this, you’re talking to people, we have, we had like a question and answer open office hours last year. You’re engaging with the community in all sorts of ways. There’s just so many different things to do in my role that me having ADHD is kind of like a, I don’t want to say a super power, but it’s definitely a compliment, you know what I mean? It definitely helps. That’s not to say there are not hard days. That’s not to say I still don’t find things difficult. I definitely a hundred percent do, but my productivity, isn’t tied to a bunch of numbers and the numbers it is tied to is so minuscule and small that it’s manageable for me. So yeah. That’s my new job. That’s ADHD. That’s my old job. That’s why I quit. This episode is kind of getting long. I don’t know if I still want to talk about like diversity and inclusion, but I do want to, Oh, also I am still in uni because I decided not to submit my dissertation. I, because I got my ADHD diagnosis, I was able to kind of like, you know, I was already on disability, but I was able to ask for an extension so out’s four year extension. And so I will be submitting it this year instead. And I do have one except, well, technically I have two exams to resit I’m only going to be- oh no, I have three exams to resit, I’m only going to be resetting one of them because I can’t come and stress myself, I can’t come and kill myself for, for this, no. But yes, I’m still working through my uni, I’m working for my dissertation at the moment. I wanted to change it and they were like that’s going to be £3000 to change the dissertation topic, even if I kept the same dissertation supervisor. So I’m sticking with what I’ve got, I’m just going to do it, bang it out, hopefully, and, you know, move on.
And yeah, so. In the next, I guess this season, if you want to call it that, I want to talk more about the work that I’ll be doing with web standards and The Open Web Docs. So the open web docs is an organization, I don’t know if you saw, but like last year, Mozilla fired a bunch of their staff, including the documentation writers for the Mozilla developer network, which is MDN. And so this new organization called Open Web Docs was kind of spawned out of that. And I’m on the editorial board for that representing Samsung internet and I’m also an alternate on the steering committee, so when my manager can’t go to the steering committee meetings, I go in his stead and it’s super fun so far, like I’m enjoying it.
I have a tutorial on MDN at the moment, which you can check out, I’ll put the link in the description below and yeah, just lots of cool things happening. Lots of cool things popping and I’m happy, considering the circumstances of what’s going on in the world at the moment , coups are happening governments are breaking down. There is still a virus out here and people are not respecting that. The British government is doing the most, you know, considering all of these things, I am personally in a good space and I’m grateful for that. Cause I know that apart from the fact that it’s good to be grateful, I also know that it’s a privilege to be in this space right now.
So I was gonna have like this whole spiel about diversity and inclusion, but that will probably be the next episode. However, I do want to speak about an event that’s coming up. If you are a person from a minoritized group, if you are not a basically cis-gendered white men who is straight, probably middle-class then there’s this event happening called the global diversity CFP day. So if you want to learn how to submit CFPs for talks, for conferences and things like that you can attend this event and there’ll be lots of mentors and people to help and lots of tips and things like this. One of my colleagues is actually taking part as a mentor and she has given talks all over the world. For a bunch of different companies and she’s great at it. And so yeah, I will leave the link in the description, check it out if that’s what you want to do. And yeah, that’s it from me and this kind of dump of an episode of just everything that’s been going on in my life. I will see you next time.