Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Privilege, Nepotism, and Luck

As we come to the end of 2021, I've been giving a good bit of thought to my career development and how I started out.  Part of this is my pondering where I want to go next, and part is the byproduct of a conversation I had with someone I worked with more than twenty years ago.

A couple of fun facts about me which people probably don't know:

  • I got my first job in high school doing bookkeeping for a business owned by my grandfather and uncle.
  • I got my first "real job" in IT while in college because I happened to be dating the boss's daughter.
  • I got my second real job because my father worked at the company in another department.
Now, none of this is to suggest I didn't do good work at any of the companies.  Looking back I think I did "better than average" for my age and level of experience at the time.  I worked long hours and made a considerable effort to prove my worth and exceed expectations.  And the reputation I established and the relationships I formed set me up for future jobs.

But none of this changes the fact that my first three jobs were acquired as a result of nepotism.  I likely wouldn't have gotten through the door at any of them without the personal relationship.  It's also fair to suggest that in my early years of employment I was a much more awkward and prickly person on an interpersonal level, and the personal relationships I had at those jobs might have spared me from some difficult conversations that my managers might have had with me otherwise.

It's all too common that successful people talk about how much they were able to achieve through hard work and determination.  It's also all too common that they neglect to mention other factors that they can't really take credit for.  Sure, I worked hard and was determined, but I was also lucky, had people who helped me, and always had a safety net in a supportive family (e.g. I could take risks knowing that if all else failed then I could always move back home with my father and live rent-free for a few months to get back on my feet).

It also didn't hurt being a white, straight, cisgender male.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Reflecting On My Recent Accident

The day after my fall I posted on Instagram a photo of me sitting in a wheelchair outside the skating rink, smiling with a bag of ice on my ankle.  This paints a relatively simple picture suggesting I just had an "oops" moment and now I needed to get my leg fixed up.  But while I was feeling ok at that moment, it doesn't really capture what I really felt only a few minutes prior.

Pain.  Searing, blinding pain.  Pain like I have never felt in my life.  The feeling that you're going to pass out from the pain it hurts so badly.  I remember laying on the ice with my skate folded underneath my other leg, and I couldn't even see straight.  The panic that CC might have been hurt too since I was holding her hand when we fell.  My heart was racing and my forehead was covered in sweat, despite just laying there on the freezing cold rink.  I remember Jeremy telling the referees that he's a physician (thank God for that), and I remember his voice as he talked through several attempts in straightening my leg and removing the skate from my foot.  I don't remember how they got me up off my back and into the wheelchair, but I am pretty sure I didn't help in the process.

And then I felt ok.  I guess it's all relative, but at that point I was feeling better and figured I just had a sprained ankle and I had been a baby.  I called my spouse from the locker area and informed her of "the dumb thing I did".

It wasn't just a sprain though, which became apparent after they did the x-rays and concluded I needed to be transferred to another hospital that was "better equipped to handle this level of trauma".

I spent five days in the hospital.  I should have been out of there in three, but on the third day I had an episode of syncope during my PT session.  Thus I had to wait until they got my pain meds right before I could be safely discharged.

I can feel myself starting to sweat whenever I think about those moments.

It's hard not to feel like it's just yet another reason for me to be depressed about 2021.  Like I didn't already have enough weighing me down.

I'm not writing any of the above to solicit sympathy.  Mostly it's just me trying to work through what I suspect is some mild PTSD.