From Japan to London

Today as I was texting a friend it suddenly occurred to me that I lost my confidence. After sending the text I read it back, and realized that I was using rather timid and uncertain phrasing. It's the first time this year that I caught myself doing that.  It made me realize how I've changed compared to the beginning of this year. I've pretty much moved from the top of the stack all the way to the bottom. And I lost some confidence along the way.

During early 2010 I could not possibly have more confidence. People at my old workplace were relying on my domain-specific knowledge, which was required to transfer the projects I was on to other people before leaving. It allowed me to feel confident in my ability as a software developer while at the same time being able to develop my Japanese more than ever before. I really improved a lot those last few months at AK. That, combined with the powerful feeling of choosing to quit my job out of my own volition, made me feel very confident. The months after that I was on my own, cycling through Japan, doing whatever the hell I wanted for however long I wanted to. The timing of that trip really did make it an absolutely perfect experience.

Then, after coming back to Holland, I did have a bit of an adjustment to make. Searching for jobs in Europe in late summer did not prove as easy as I thought, but I wasn't really bothered by it. I did a couple of phone interviews that didn't lead to anything, but in every one of those cases it was pretty clear that those companies were not what I was looking for. I then went to London for a couple of weeks to do some on-site interviews. I did really well on them, which boosted my confidence even further. It was around this time that I received an e-mail from Google.

Google wanted to interview me! I had indeed submitted my CV to Google a while back but thought nothing of it when I did not receive a reply back. I had pretty much set my mind set on getting a  job in London. What followed was a phone interview which went well, two weeks of die-hard studying, and several on-site interviews. By this time my overconfidence had reached such great heights that I was already thinking of where to live and what kind of car to buy when (not if!) Google would hire me. I didn't do very well on the interviews, estimating a 50-50 chance of getting hired. Even now I think that I could have done better on those interviews, but I was just too hyped up to get the job, which made me do some stupid things. Most important lesson learned: NEVER EVER DRINK COFFEE BEFORE A JOB INTERVIEW! Especially if you don't like coffee.

My assessment of my interview performance proved to be correct, as they made me come back for another round to make things clear. This boosted my confidence again, as I got exactly the result I expected, and I knew I could do better. This is where the climbing line of confidence ends though. I messed up the next round of interviews. And I know exactly where it went wrong. In hindsight, of course. Maybe I'll blog about that some other day. Anyway, after the rejection I still had to find a job somewhere else, and soon after the Google experience I managed to find a job in London. It took some time to arrange everything, but soon I was off to London, ready to start a new life.

Which brings me to where I am right now. I'm still getting used to the country and the job. Everyone I know at work is my 'sempai', meaning they've been at the company longer and therefore know a lot more about the infrastructure, the source code and the business decisions. I'm starting from the bottom again. The same goes for the country: everybody here is used to London life. I'm not. I'm still surprised that the train's not running on Christmas day.

I have to admit that this experience has affected me more than I thought. Loss of confidence and loss of control come to mind. There's so many things I have to do to get settled here, and many of things are serious and permanent things, like bank accounts and rental contracts. I really don't like binding myself to anything for a long time, so committing myself to London is proving a.. painful-ish experience. I don't think I can express it in any other way. I don't regret it though, it's just my personality playing up. There's always a little voice in my head telling me to quit my job and go on an epic cycling trip. I'm doing my best to ignore that voice. For now.

So that's the story of how I ended up in London. I've been working for three weeks now, learning the ins and outs of software development, done the right way. I'm learning a lot of things that will probably continue for quite some months. And slowly but surely my ignorance is turning into insolence again.

(I don't write (or rather, publish) a lot of these posts any more. In this case though, I figured I might as well. Whenever I post something like this I wonder how sharing information about my life could negatively affect me. Never in my life has anything I ever posted online come back to bite me in the ass. And that's the way it should be.)


Posted in Thoughts