Sep 06 2019

The problems with self love

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 2:11

I’ve mentioned here my low self-esteem, but I must confess I’m a hypocrite. I’ve had low self-esteem in the past, really low. And yes I used it as a fuel to push myself forward personally and professionally. I am at a certain moment in my life when I cannot see myself anymore as a mediocre programmer, because I have four technical books published, and soon there will be five of them. I’ve changed about seven jobs, kept increasing my salary, diversifying my experience and trained quite a lot of people. I’m obviously not mediocre, and probably I’ve never been.

From a personal point of view, I have overcome a toxic upbringing and a toxic relationship, I have won a long battle with depression and suicidal thoughts and I’m dealing with ADHD without medication. I might not be completely sane, but I am more sane and socially functional than most people are. So I can’t really say about myself anymore that I am “broken, misfit, anxious, etc”.

I’ve been alone for quite a long time, and all my life I wanted to meet somebody that is understanding, supportive, funny and gentle. That I can share a beer with, that I can share a steak with, that I can share a walk in silence, or an extra-long hike and a good cry here and there. Somebody that would listen to me and fight me when I’m being an asshole without threatening to leave me and without allowing my bad moment of assholery define me until the end of times in their eyes. Somebody with an open heart and an open mind, somebody who would drill me until I explained myself properly and not draw the worst conclusions. Well, the problem is, people like that are hard to find. So I worked on becoming that person myself. And I think I’m quite there. I worked on becoming that person myself because I needed somebody like that in my life. And what I cannot find, I create. Simple enough, right?

And I am at that stage in my life where I truly appreciate and love myself. I’m so content with the person I’ve turned myself into I could just live for the rest of my life by myself. But do you know what the bloody problem is? I could, but I do not want to.

And since I do not want to, here’s the second problem: I like/love/appreciate myself which is good, it’s the right attitude, but how the hell am I supposed to find a totally different person that feels the same way about me? Because if you think there is another person that sees you and understands you the same way you do, you are very very much mistaken. Because you see things about yourself and know things about yourself, that you might never be able to convey to another. And they cannot enter your mind to truly see you and understand you. Let’s make a short conclusion here: sure, you consider yourself great, but do they?

And hence, the third problem: will I be able to feel about his person, exactly what they want me to feel about them?

All those articles telling you that you should work on yourself, learn to love yourself, be a little selfish, put yourself first never warn you of the most terrifying consequence: loneliness. When you love yourself the way you want to be loved, you are content, you are in a good place. And the loneliness is most times bearable. And the person to chase away your loneliness should add up to that good place, to make it great, right? Do you have any idea how special that person must be? And how many special persons are in this world really?

Take a look at this quote:

You’re not going to encounter any other relationship in your life that will be as raw, as open and as beautiful as the one you’re going to have with yourself. It’s a relationship that you first must build before you’re able to build with another person.

Problem is, a good relationship with yourself is like having plugged a hole in your bike’s wheel. The hole is already plugged. No air is coming out anymore. The bike is functional. If somebody else comes and offers to plug the hole, well… plug what?

My mom said once to me that we all need to feel loved and we are willing to go through an eternity of hell for just a single moment of it. So, if you love yourself, that need is satisfied. There is no more reason to risk that eternity of hell.

Or maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m just that content with my life with myself, that I am so terrified to risk it that I am willing to suffer through my pangs of loneliness. But yeah, you go ahead and learn to love yourself. You have no guarantee that you will not end up just like me. Good luck!

Stay safe, stay happy!

Aug 29 2019

Vacation insomnia strikes again

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 2:40

Never, ever when I was away from home was I able to sleep properly. I don’t really get enough sleep anyway, but vacations are the worst. People go on vacation to recharge, to rest. I’m going just to avoid routine for a while and then I have to come back earlier from vacation because I need to recover.

I am now in Italy, in the wonderfully boring city of Viterbo, and instead of sleeping, since tomorrow a long day of socializing with the family awaits, here I am writing this entry.

I would like to blame it all on the heat, but I really can’t. There’s a sense of un-familiarity in this place and even if the owner was a sweetie and everything is in perfect condition, here I am unable to sleep.

Sure, there are a few thoughts tormenting me, as the disappointment of not being able to finish this damn chapter before I left for this vacation, of the disappointment I’ve just had in writing some reactive tests that failed no matter what I tried. No worries, I’ll make them work at some point. And then, on Monday I’m starting my new job. This moment seemed so far away it felt it would never come. August has been a month during which I had a nice life, a home life, where on the mornings I went swimming or running, then I came back to my desk and my cat where for a day I would play with libraries and LaTeX and Google Drawings trying to help a few developers figure out how Spring and other things work.

And there are a few other thoughts, that I really wanted to drown in alcohol today, but I was just not in the mood for drinking. I mean, it’s Italy, I know how beer is here. It’s lame and tasteless. Sorry guys, I love a lot of things about Italy. Beer is not one of them.

I have a lot of things going on in my brains right now. I am a little bit worried my mind is failing me. I have trouble finding words lately. And I am tired, but I cannot sleep. And when I sleep I have nightmares. I woke up a few days ago from a nightmare that looked a lot like the world from 1984. I woke up at 6 am and I was ready for a revolution. I was prepared to fight. And half a second later I realized I’m in Scotland and there is no Big Brother, it’s only a little Brexit.

Continue reading “Vacation insomnia strikes again”

Aug 23 2019

Emotional scars

Category: English posts,Miscellaneous,PersonalIuliana @ 12:02

I know the title seems like this article is going to be one of those annoying medium entries, but it’s not. I promise you, it is not.

I have this way of viewing the world: I don’t think any of us is perfectly sane. I think we are all mad or broken to some degree. We do not live in a perfect world, and since we make up this world, neither are we. I’ve said this before to some people and they took it personally and felt offended. How can I assume they are broken? How do I dare to make them doubt their sanity? I think the worst thing you can do to yourself is to view yourself as being good, normal or whatever positive thing makes you feel good about yourself. Because when you see yourself in this over-positive light you might stop working on yourself and you might become an overly righteous prick. Maybe. I’m not saying it will happen to you. But during my lifetime I’ve met some people that felt entitled to tell me how I’m being wrong, what I’m doing wrong, what is wrong with me and how should I change to be right.

I am not secretive when it comes to my childhood. My parents were not the worst parents, but they were not the best either. My relationship with them was toxic, there was some emotional and physical abuse here and there, and when given the chance at eighteen to leave them behind and going to study in a different town, I never looked back.

The love of my life died when I was eighteen. He was probably the only one even remotely sane person in my life for six years, he always had something good and encouraging to say and he never made me feel like there was something wrong with me.  Him dying was probably one of the worst things that happened to me. One more emotional scar in my collection.

Because of the toxic upbringing and the hole in my heart, I wasn’t able to make the best choices in relationships either. My last relationship, the way I remember it, seems to have been toxic and seasoned with some emotional abuse. It might not sound that bad, but considering that my psyche was not in such good shape when it all started, you can imagine it was not a joy ride.

It took me a long time to understand and accept everything that happened to me. And I realized the consequences all those events had on me.  There are things about me that I will never be able to fix. But despite all that I am a functioning adult. I can hold down a job and I managed somehow to have a lot of friends that are way more sane than I am. I am aware of some things in my character that might be detrimental to others and I keep them under control and warn them beforehand, so they are aware of them and decide if they want to take a chance of being close to me or not.

That is why I am not keeping my struggles secret. I do not want to give anybody the illusion that I am normal(whatever that means). I want people to know I’ve been dealt a really shitty hand, but despite all that I am where I am. If I could hold down a job, train other people to do it, inspire them and make people happy here and there, whatever kind of broken I am, it might be a good thing after all.

Sure, I will never stop working on myself, I will never stop monitoring myself and drag myself to a psychologist if I think I need it. Because I refuse to let my past define me, I refuse to let all this emotional baggage drag me down. I bloomed as a person, despite all that. Sure, I wish sometimes things would have been different, but the past cannot be changed, and I refuse to be bitter because of it.

My parents will never say I’m sorry for being a shitty parent! because in their mind the person I am today is proof that they did a good job. So I accepted the fact that I shouldn’t be expecting that kind of closure.

The only thing I can do is keep blooming. Yes, I have some emotional scars. But honestly, with all that happened to me, it is ridiculous to expect anything else. Even rocks get scratched and chipped. I am sure everybody else has their own scars as well. And because I have mine, I know how to relate to people better. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours, right?

Stay safe, stay happy!

Aug 22 2019

Let them know

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 14:44

In 2014 Steve Anglin contacted me to write a book for Apress I thought it was a hoax. Something similar to those Nigerian princes that just need a little bit of your money for some paperwork so they can move their wealth outside their politically problematic region and then share it with you. Honestly, I’ve kept the emails going and only after 6 months, I finally submitted a proposed summary and finally accepted a contract. It was just too unbelievable that something like this would happen to me, a nobody from Romania, working in outsource, not the top of my class, not really expecting to be working in this domain for five years while at the university.

But it did happen to me, and it happened because I had this blog, where I just put a banner letting the world know I am a certified Spring developer. Yes, that’s how Steve found me, he found my blog, out of all things. He did not find me on Xing or LinkedIn, he found my blog, a personal blog, not even a technical blog. So, even if sometimes I write useless things, that nobody will ever read, I will continue producing content just to trick the Google search engine into thinking I am worth its attention. And so far it seems to be working.

My first book was pretty lame, it was about writing Spring Web applications. Or maybe the book was not lame, but I was clearly a nobody, in the technical authoring world, and I was a grain of sand in the IT world. And no matter how much investment Apress did in promoting the book, it did not sell well.  Also, the fact that you could find it in PDF format on most torrenting sites in the first week it was released did not help much.  Anyway, this post is not about selling books, it is about writing them and knowing they are valuable.

When I started doing this I had no idea how good I’d be at it. Even now while I’m finishing my 5th, I still do not know if I’m doing it right(imposter syndrome right here). Sure, books started selling better after my name got linked to Pro Spring 5, but I do doubt myself, because well… I’m no Josh Long, nor Trisha Gee, that’s sure. I do have my strong points, but being good in the spotlight is not one of them. :P

The only way I’ve received some confirmation that I’m doing this right is the fact that Apress still wants me to write for them(doh!) and the emails I sometimes receive from people reading my books. Also, LinkedIn is a good medium where people reading my books can reach me and send messages and I do receive a few of them there too. The first email I ever received was about my first book, apparently, until my book, nobody knew how to configure Spring WebFlow using only Java Configurations and annotations. It felt so good, knowing that in this ever-growing and complex ecosystem that is Spring, I managed to build something in a way nobody thought it could be built.

Sometimes I receive questions about things in the books that are not clear, and I answer them because if somebody was unable to grasp how something in the books works, that is on me. I fucked up.

But most emails and messages are from people thankful that I wrote those books and provided functional code that helped them move forward in their career or helped them understand the fundamentals of the software they are working with.

There was one person, that even after reading my book and working through the exercises, failed the certification exam. And it broke my heart to read that message, especially since I really couldn’t do anything to help. I felt like I failed him somehow, that my book could have been better. It took a while to realize that even if one of the books is designed to help you prepare for the certification exam, in the end, if you pass or not, depends on a lot of other factors. In my life, I’ve failed exams too, and I had a lot of resources to prepare from, just like everybody else that took that exam. So, yeah, these things happen, but a single moment does not define a person and is not relevant to their talent, determination or career.

Today, I received another message on LinkedIn from a young student in Macedonia.

It melts my heart! See, I’ve been a student in Romania, in 2001 when good resources were so hard to find. And I am just so happy that my book might help him jump-start his career. So thank you, David, for letting me know I’m doing this right. Thank you for buying my book! I might doubt myself the next time my build fails or I have writer’s block, but for the next few days, I’ll be able to write with confidence because of your message.

I wanted to give this up after my first book did not sell. I felt like Apress made a very bad investment taking me on. And that first email convinced me that maybe I can do this. And when Apress gave the opportunity of writing Pivotal Certified Professional Spring Developer Exam I took it. I tried a second time. What was the worst that could happen, right?  And here I am, taking a break from writing its second edition to say a big thank you to all of you that reached out and let me know that my books are a valuable resource to you.

Thank you all for reaching out! I’m not making that much money out of the books, I just write them because it allows me to experiment with technologies in a way a rigid working environment does not really allow it. And I  do it because I enjoy writing. I know that I’m not a native English speaker and sometimes the way I express myself is not clear enough and I’m sorry for that. But I enjoy writing, I enjoy sharing my understanding of things with others and it just feels good being useful overall. These books are my legacy, I have not that much to leave behind after I’m gone, and it’s very rewarding knowing they are appreciated.

So yeah, if you appreciate something, let the creator know how thankful you are. You have no idea how as little as a few words means to them. You might the light that brightens their day.

Stay safe, stay happy!

Aug 18 2019

Happy birthday to me

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 10:15

This is it, the big 36, I’m now officially on my way to the 40s and I can’t wait for that to happen. Apparently, when you are 40 you are really out of fucks to give. Because lately, I have discovered I have a few left and I’m very good at making my life complicated because of them.

This is the second birthday after the John Mayer birthday. Yup that birthday is still number one. It’s not even that hard to win the competition honestly. Before that birthday I can’t remember one when I was even remotely happy. And after it, well… last year I spent it with my childhood friend and it was nice. You know what wasn’t so nice? Getting a fine because I overstayed my parking, and that happened because I did not read the instructions on the parking machine right. So yeah,  being 30 GBP poorer on my birthday, that doesn’t make it a good birthday in my book.

This year, well… I am here, in my favourite bakery, having a coffee with scrambled eggs on bacon and toast, while gazing over the Forth Bridge. It is not a sunny day, it is one of those typical Scottish days that cannot seem to be able to make up its mind and decide if it will be sunny or rainy, so it is a combination of both. I just got myself a ticket to a cruise to an island I’ve only seen from afar until now and I am waiting for the boat to come.

I tried last night to explain to somebody why I am so fascinated by this bridge. The oversimplification of the whole discussion is that this bridge seems like it has been over-designed and overthought. Its design is more complex than it should be for its purpose but sure as hell looks majestic.

One of my biggest character drawbacks is that I cannot stop overthinking stuff that happens in my life. I go over them over and over and based on multiple points of view I try to anticipate future events. Most times I am spot on(no, I cannot guess you the lottery numbers yet) which makes me a pain in the ass for people. I am also a pain in the ass for me because it is annoying to know the outcome of something I am involved in because it just … takes out the excitement and the surprise out of it. And when the outcome is painful, is even worse, because most times, the events are already set and no matter what I do I cannot stop it. But sometimes there are aberrations and when that happens I need some time to adjust.

That is why I like that bridge – because it’s like a metaphor for … well, me. All in all it was a good day with a very nice surprise at the end.

And since I’ve mentioned the beautiful island I spent my birthday exploring, here’s some pictures. Enjoy!

Stay safe, stay happy!

Aug 17 2019

Blast from the past(part 11)

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 14:29

2016 is one of the years that I archived the pictures for and a lot of them got lost. But I am happy that the set of pictures I took while first visiting Scotland were not lost.

How did I end up going to Scotland for vacation? Well, I have these two friends and they proposed a trip to Irland and Scotland because there was a cheap direct flight from Cluj to Dublin. And yeah, UK is pretty expensive so, it would have bean cheaper ion three. I was out of ideas for my vacation anyway and I was keen to come back to Dublin. So there we went. And we are still talking about that vacation as the best we ever had.

When we were walking on the streets of Edinburgh I told them I can see myself living here. And well, we all know where I live now. :D Continue reading “Blast from the past(part 11)”

Aug 14 2019

Blast from the past(part 10)

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 2:51

Here we are, it is the year 2015. This is the year when I decided I no longer liked having long hair. And I cut it short, really short. I also came back to my natural colour which is a very dark brown.

The archive for this year got messed up too. So, unfortunately, all the pictures in this post are from November and December. Which is really, really sad. Because 2015 was a great year. This is the year when I went to Frankfurt in August and heard the Script sing live for the first time in my life. I’ve been a fan of this band since 2008 since they first emerged as a Dublin phenomenon.
This was their first released song and I still love it because it has such an air of hopeful sadness to it.

I still like them although their latest album is too commercial for my taste. Still bought it from iTunes and supported them because I trust them to do better next time.

Then in November, I’ve been to Vienna for the first time in my life. I know, Vienna is very close to Romania, how come it took me so long? Well, you need a certain type of friends to enjoy a city like that. Also, you need some special type of friends to enjoy a Marily Manson concert. Because that was the primary purpose of the trip. Sad fact: the concert ended abruptly because 13 November 2015 is the date of the Paris terror attacks that left 129 people dead, so the Viennese security started fearing for the safety of such a big crowd and decided to stop the concert. And we were there, with shitty internet and thinking Marily Manson was having a drug-induced temper tantrum. Because we only found out what happened a little bit later.

Vienna is impressive is a cultural city and unless you really like castles and baroque-inspired buildings, it won’t do it for you. I love Vienna, I even considered taking a job there. I even met someone that I could have fallen in love with there. Yes Dominik, I am talking about you. ;) So yeah, Vienna will always be dear to me.

That year I’ve participated to one of the best company winter parties ever. Uff, I really miss my co-workers from Sibiu, and the ones from Germany too. But oh well, it is what it is.

That year after the company party, a small weekend to Geneva turned to a beautiful few days to Annecy, France when the girl reserving the accomodations, managed to book an appartment next to the train station in Annecy, instead of Geneva. And it was a perfect mistake and I still lover her for it. I’ve had the greatest time and I will always remember the fondue I’ve shared with her. We haven’t seen each other for a long time, she has her own life and I have mine, but I do miss her sometimes. I’ve returned to Annecy last year, I was there alone, with a sprained knee and a cane. Obviously, it was not the same.

I closed the year with a hike to the Canaia cabin, from the Cindrel mountains. My first witer climb with two of my best friends. We started climbing on a Friday evening and dark caught up with us and the fog made everything so gloomy. But it was beautiful and mesmerizing.

Not sure what else to say about 2015. I think this was the year I finally broke down and took myself to a psychologist. I’ve been battling depression and suicidal thoughts for years, I was looking at myself in the mirror realizing that I am in a better situation than I ever dreamed I would be and still felt useless and still thought the world would be better without me. And it hit me, I was the last person on the world that anybody would expect to feel this way. Why was I feeling this way? I obviously had no answer for this, so I just decided to go and ask a professional. And this is how I met the woman that helped me become the ray of sunshine I am today.

So if you are struggling with your own mind, be brave, tell somebody, do not keep it in an let it poison you. We are all broken one way or another, and we need to support each other. Talk to a friend, go to a psychologist, do whatever you need to to get better. Because you can get better.

Stay safe, stay happy!