Handling Anxiety’s Destabilizing Impositions

My main challenge is arresting the anxiety wave in the moment.

Happy Thursday, and an enthusiastic welcome to my newest subscribers! 👋🏾

The more-watchful among you have no doubt noticed that I’ve been publishing my newsletters every 2 weeks recently.

I decided that a 2-week publishing cadence works best for my workload, life responsibilities and mental health. Plus, I can maintain high-quality content that is worth your attention and loyalty. ❤️

In this issue, I share how I talked myself through my anxiety regarding a work-task. 🎉

BONUS: Starting with this issue, I now narrate the Arit Developer newsletter on Racket! Click the “Listen On Racket” link at the top of each story! 🎙

Handling Anxiety’s Destabilizing Impositions

#Work&Career #WholeCare

Listen On Racket 🎙

One of my technical career goals this year is to improve my front-end skills. I’m lucky - Forem has some badass frontend developers like Nick Taylor and Suzanne Aitchison, and pairing with them has been so helpful.

However, I have learned about myself that the comfort I feel pairing with more experienced engineers does not necessarily mean that I’m gaining the skills. I need opportunities to go it alone, struggle, feel incompetent, settle down, retrace my steps, then inch forward, each step becoming steadier as I accomplish small wins.

My recent task required writing some StimulusJS functions that showed a modal when the user deleted an item. I built the modal in plain javascript, but Suzanne informed me that the modal was not accessible at all (😔 ) and suggested that I use our Preact modal component. I could access this component by importing the StimulusJS controller called modal-controller.js.

I didn’t know how to use this imported modal. I found an example in our codebase where the modal was imported and used to extend the use-case class, but the implementation added so much functionality, which I didn’t need. I started to panic: “I hate frontend work… I’m not a frontend engineer.” My chest tightened, my head pressurized and my breathing grew shallower by the second. I was 90% done with my task, and now this Preact modal thingy was going to ruin everything!

Calm down, breathe, and write something, Arit” I told myself. With pen and paper (because there’s something so cathartic about physically writing, not typing or tapping), I started tracing the controller connections in the use-case I’d found. I realized that instead of extending the top-level Controller class, I could extend the ModalController class and gain access to all its functions.

I started building my methods slowly, console-logging the sh*t out of everything. At one point, I needed to pass parameters through TWO functions. but there was no way to accomplish this smoothly. As anxiety began creeping in again, I quickly looked up some StimulusJS documentation, and learned that I could define Target values, thus storing my parameter values for later use.

Just like that, my work was complete. I’m learning how to better work through my anxiety, especially around my work. It has been said that imposter syndrome affects nearly everyone, regardless of skill level. When I encounter something I don’t know, and yet feel like I should know it, I easily teleport to the headspace of I hate this, this isn’t for me, which in turn short-circuits my problem-solving process. That’s my challenge - arresting the anxiety wave in the moment. What works for me is getting out of my head and focusing on something external - writing, talking, drawing.

How do you handle feelings of anxiety and imposter syndrome? Please share in the comments or email me back. I look forward to reading! 🙏🏽