Humans both crave and are terrified of new things and new experiences. Some days the craving wins out, others the fear; both are real. I am finding both in a new job. Moments of deep satisfaction and moments of fear that the next hole is the one I won’t be able to find my way out of.
Being new is hard. Both not knowing and not knowing what you don’t know. Not knowing your team, either as humans or as teammates and collaborators. Not feeling like you add value and not knowing how long it will take for that feeling to change.
But there are good things too. I completed my first support rotation last week. And most of the time when issues came up, I wasn’t even aware that the system with the issue existed. But there’s always somewhere to start. A screenshot that helps you reproduce it, which leads to an error log, which leads to a line of code, which leads to another, and eventually, a solution. I haven’t had time yet to build the inroads in my brain that allow me to pattern match intuitively, so even things that aren’t particularly complex are an unknown. They light up that section of my brain that says I’m exploring new territory and I’m being successful at it. Whatever area of the brain it is that lights up while working on a good scavenger hunt — same thing.
There are other moments that drag. Moments where I can sense what I need to accomplish, and that getting there isn’t terribly complex, but seeing the path from here to there is a slog and takes longer than it feels like it should. Moments of listening to my team talk about problems and solutions and feeling just on the edge of comprehension, one step behind.
Newness too, as a tool. Or not so much newness, but at least the utter lack of assumptions that is nearly impossible to fully inhabit outside of newness. My team ran into a bug the other day. Not a critical bug, but a confounding one, that we all ended up poking at over the course of the afternoon. Each person on the team contributed a breadcrumb or more toward understanding the cause, but I was able to identify the root cause simply by nature of not understanding the system as deeply as the others. Where they had understanding, or assumptions, I had holes that needed filling. In my searching to fill those holes, I found the hole that was causing the bug. I don’t have any special skill that they don’t, I just happened to be the one who flipped over the rock that they might not have, because they thought they knew what was under it already.
This ignoring of rocks that we’ve looked under before is not a flaw in human logic. It’s a time- and energy-saving tactic. If we had to flip over every rock every time, even those we’ve flipped over dozens or hundreds of times before, imagine how much longer even the most basic of tasks would take. This one time, it would have paid off, but that’s not a universal truth. This one time, instead of begrudging my plodding slowness as I look under each rock, I will be grateful for my lack of assumptions, my newness.