I reject the notion of rationality in an absurd system.

I've been stewing, this last time, for days. About the deftness with which I can not contribute to the company for whom I work. About my "skillset" and what it says about me modulus the intersection of my current job, the job I want, and the job my company wants me to do. This recalls a melange of self-deprecation during my 12-year stint at a prior company, during which I flew a gradual but inescapable downward trajectory on the graphs of both self-worth and peer respect, together with a near-daily reflection on (sometimes unintentional) feedback I've received from my current employer, especially over the past year.

I have, as most everyone I've met, a vast store of aptitude in the shape of stem cells, undifferentiated units which can with the proper bath of nutrients and necessity become any one of millions of possible tissues or other cell structures. I have expended no little effort so directing much of my aptitude, never quite satisfied with the result and always looking to the next opportunity for further differentiation, further development.

In a rational system this effort would be afforded its own intrinsic value by the agent of the effort, as well as others. In a world actually emblematic of the quaint notion that failure is a great tool for learning, trying something would incite the respect of colleagues and superiors. There would be little room in this system for proselytization of Ford's Great Ideas as they would be seen for what they are: an implementation of mechanized indenture designed to minimize risk and especially of failure in such a way that the owners of the system can enjoy opportunities for failure themselves by stealing the potential from all their underlings. Failure, then, is not unlike a natural resource, perhaps an unrenewable resource given how the dispirited become the apathetic and cynical.

So I find myself a bit stuck. I left the presumed if depleting safety of a 12-year tenure at one company for the risk and reward of opportunity at another. I work in a capacity that can involve the kind of brutal monotony found in many lower-end knowledge-work appointments, but which may also include some truly engaging work. The current proportion is approximately 99/1, respectively, and while there are indications it'll improve in 2015 those are mere intimations of wonder. I could myself become an agent of this change, but alas though I continue to build small bits of skill tissue through slow and fitful effort I am not currently capable of doing the things necessary to be the change I want. Maybe this is one of my faults; maybe this is self-defeating and I need to learn only that little bit that allows me to fake it until I, you know, make it.

That is the rock. The hard place is found in my poor alignment with The Company's expectations, as evidenced by my 2014 mid-year review. I will be the first (by virtue of my natural will for self-deprecation if nothing else) to say my work could be better. I need no evidence to agree with The Company on some issues raised. But by my calculation a significant and maybe majority proportion of the issues The Company raised were inappropriately weighted and done so against the precepts of "team" and "culture" they so enthusiastically effuse. This steals more than a bit of my will to fake it until I make it.

Between the rock and the hard place are a few options. I could matriculate into some conventional program of study with The Company's blessing and maybe with financial help, but discussions along these lines have failed to impress me with their interest in supporting me this way. It also presents something of a logistical challenge, which is not a reason to demure but is something to consider deeply. I could, alternatively, find some other system on the order of Coursera or Meetup groups or something, which I have already done, and which have other constraints. I could seek out an employer who values this sort of improvement of their employee base, but this invokes the recursive issues I'm already facing. Namely, that while I have aptitude and interest in developing these skills for fun and profit, my lower-dimensional projection saved in some file named "résumé" paints the picture of a person best-suited to doing what I'm already doing, not what I want to be doing.

This whole situation seems mostly a product of my approaching an absurd system with expectations of rationality. I should need only my good intentions (which, sometimes despite their appearances, I'm convinced everyone has if you're charitable and patient enough to look) and a belief that a rising tide lifts all boats, and I will be well-prepared to both help others succeed and receive such help as I need to do the same. Cue the opening salvo of a polemic decrying the ills of the public school system.

Seriously. Cue that shit up. It's the root of all this absurdity.



My name is Daniel Black. I am on the internet in several places, including Twitter and Tumblr. I am a person. I am a father and a husband. I am was a university student of mathematics. I am a less formalized student of thinking, of philosophy, of writing, and of how to make decisions.

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