Nicky's Blog

You Are The One You've Been Waiting For

Ok, so let's clear up one thing straight away: yes, I'm a 33 year old man who watches Disney, in large part because of my wife, and yes, I cry at Frozen 21. Always, always, at that line Elsa's mum sings at her in Show Yourself2.

You are the one you've been waiting for.

Because boy, is that a concept I struggle with.

You may have noticed this, but I have a deep dislike for Me. I don't measure up to who or what I wanted to be, in almost every area. That idealised version of me has changed shape over the years, with some potential paths being ruled out, and others taking shape and form, but it's always the same rough idea. It's not greener grass on the other side of the fence, but golden grass a continent away, if I could just get over there.

To get over there, I have to be a certain kind of person. Not necessarily skilled, but knowledgable. Capable. Stronger and confident. Ideally in peak physical shape3. And so the hurdles are set impossibly high on the race of perfectionism.

This belief ends up doing the reverse of motivating me. While I make improvements, the standards are set impossibly high, to the point where I become paralysed with anxiety about making the next step up. Like, for example, when an old friend pops up and asked if I wanted to apply for a job under him, doing a role that both pushed me to my mental limit and yet fulfilled me the last time around, only for a lot more money.

And so, the plot thickens.

The original job was a scrum master/business analyst/project manage hybrid. It started as a secondment from an opportunity I lucked into finding, and got through eating humble pie and apologising after missing the first interview and nailing the second (story for another day). It was my first experience in that kind of role, where I had actual responsibility and things to worry about. I think I had two panic attacks in the first six months, and came close to quitting countless times.

Then they made me permanent and increased my salary 50%. Some of those problems became a little less prominent.4

But then redundancy struck, and panicking and in need of a job, I found one through another friend. I got it, had more panic attacks, reshaped the role slightly, and am now comfortable. However I still have ambitions. I'd still like to be a bit more secure financially, given my mortgage will be rising along with everything else fairly soon. And I'd like to be able to help fulfil a few of my wife's dreams, especially with travel aspirations.

What holds me back, is the idea that even though I've literally done the job before, with several years experience at handling a multitude of different situations, I've held back taking the next step and diving back in because I'm not certain I can still do it. I still feel a dozen hurdles away from where I feel I should be to take the step forwards, and it's because at my core, I'm not sure who I am and what I can do.

I believe there's a few moments in everyone's life where they are tested on who they are. One Sunday afternoon, I had one of mine.

Mum and I were watching TV in our pyjamas. There was a thud out the front of the house. I looked out the window and saw a stopped car, with a kid lying in the road behind him. I shouted for mum to call the ambulance and sprinted out.

The first step you're meant take in any first aid situation is assess for danger. At that moment, there could have been a guy with a machete standing behind me and I wouldn't have noticed or cared. Instead, I knelt down next to the broken kid lying on his side with blood pouring out of his mouth. The driver had gotten out and had no clue what to do. There was no response or movement from the kid. I gently prised open his mouth and told the driver to get a blanket, anything to prop up with. More thick blood poured out the mouth.

Ok, going back to danger. No obvious threats, and we're in the middle of a road but it's Sunday so no real traffic or cars coming. Driver is keeping a look out just in case, so that's covered. Zero response due to (hopefully, please God) unconsciousness, airway secured by the recovery position he thankfully already fell in. Breath sounds heard, definitely still bleeding on other cuts, so there's still circulation. DRABC process complete.

It's at this point I sit back on my heels and notice the crowd. I shout for everyone to back up. Someone, a friend of the kid's mum, starts shouting at me that 999 said to put him on his back. It goes against my training, but that was years ago so maybe things have changed. I get two others to help gently move him and he immediately starts gurgling, the blood from his mouth now moving back into his through. Nope. Get him back on his side. Said woman is now screaming at me to go back.

'I just tried that and he started gurgling, which means that blood coming out of his is pooling in his throat, which will lead him to choke, and he will die. I will not put him on his back.'

Screaming woman shuts up. I make a mental note to check this with my GP in the morning.5

Eventually paramedics turned up, and it's at that point the boy starts to respond, which breaks through my calm and send my anxiety spiralling. I spend the next five minutes washing someone else's blood off my hands, then trying to find someone to help me decompress what just happened.

I'm not naive or self-obsessed enough to believe any of this was particularly heroic, or special in any way. I did the bare minimum to make sure he had an airway, wasn't hit by another car, and had the essentials covered. The emergency medics who stabilised him for airlift, and then the specialists a city away saved his life. And he did survive; there was months of recovery and rehab, but he's a perfectly healthy human kid, still walking around and growing up today.

Through my life, I've been and done many things, and not all of them have been good. But from the second I ran out the door to the the kid making noise, I was run entirely on my base instinct. My actions were automatic, separate from any overriding panic or fear. If I ever needed an idea of what I am capable of if I get out of my own way, that was it.

Even so, I still try to argue the toss. If I knew more, I could have done more. I certainly missed that he had two completely broken legs, for example. For some reason I got distracted by the blood and contusions the head.

In the same way, I pulled off some objectively impressive stuff those panic ridden months of the job. The guy who I was shadowing left one month in for three weeks to go holiday in Japan, meaning I had to cover his projects and also steer one through requirements documentation that had to be completely rewritten on the say so of the director. Then I had to take a big step in getting six of our projects through testing to live support in month three. By the end, I was taking an active role in scoping projects, and leading the scrum calls. I even developed a few small side automation projects.

I am the one I've been waiting for. I already know what I can do, and how quickly I can learn what I don't, with the proper incentive. I just have to believe it. Or at the very least, believe in other's belief.

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  1. Also Encanto. Shut up.

  2. Also, Show Yourself > Let It Go. Still shut up.

  3. While a six pack won't exactly help my career prospects, it'll certainly boost the ego.

  4. It sounds like a lot, but the first 10 months were on a secondment, so I was doing significantly more work for slightly more than a normal call handler. In fact, my wife has been earning more in the last 12 months than I did on secondment, and she has an admin based role. So, more accurately, I was finally being paid for the job I was doing.

  5. He confirmed I was right. He also shared some pretty grisly stories of his own. Still, vindication!