December 4, 2017

I'm finding London hard

I haven’t posted here in 5 months. That’s when I moved to London, which has been really hard for me. So much change. Not being in York. Not being a student.

It’s not like being in York was always easy. I got quite horribly traumatised. I went through a lot of therapy. I took 6 years to finish a 4 year degree–even if I spent 18 months of that leading the tech side of a startup, 6 months processing archaeological data, helped run half a dozen societies, wrote articles analysing representation in student government, helped build an amateur dramatic set, etc. But York was what I knew, and I’d learned to be happy there.

Working in a large, flat team (now ~20 people) is nice–but a definite stressor for me. I’ve found my communication skills challenged in lots of new ways. Lots of new situations that I had to understand and adapt to. Lots of different ways of life–meeting people in somewhat different life situations, with different needs and points of view. Enjoyable, but challenging in a way I don’t think most people understand.

On a related note, I chased an assessment letter from York and am finally coming to terms with some things about myself and why communication might be hard. I’m trying not to self-censor here. It’s hard. Give me time. Okay. I’m autistic.

In terms of the work I’ve delivered, I’m quite happy. I lacked a lot of career direction as I finished my MEng. I’ve done so much web development between 11 and 24 that I find it relatively uninteresting. Joining GDS I’d hoped to find a very different (but in a good way) environment to the small organisations I’ve thrived in before now. By luck (or because I was fiddling with implementing distributed hash tables in my spare time) I’ve ended up working on the GOV.UK PaaS. While my job title is Developer, I felt very much like my first three months were being retrained in Ops. It’s not that I couldn’t do opsy things before, but it’s learning how to make responsible decisions in a somewhat different context.

I’m having to slowly form a new life in London. It’s an opportunity: new communities more relevant to who I am now, like an LGBTQ choir I went to the other day. But it’s also quite frightening. I went back to University because there were lots of people at a time in their life where they’re quite available, and hundreds of societies, and yet the Uni degree as some structure. Non-Uni life isn’t quite like that. But I’ve found a room in a lovely flat near Finsbury Park, near some nice walks, and I’m hoping to be very happy in time.