Thursday, August 6, 2015

A missed opportunity.

I recently changed my corporate alias at AWS from the mangled, computer-generated "aandsm" to the perfectly reasonable and professional "andrewsm." In fact, it's the same as what I had at Stanford. andrewsm feels well-worn to me. 

But I made a choice for andrewsm over a different one, and it's a choice that I now (surprisingly) regret. I could have been called:


Hilarious, right? I thought so too. But I didn't have the courage to take the name. Perhaps it was too silly, or people reading my email tag would find it strange without the context of knowing me (and how it's goofiness fits me quite well). In that moment, I prioritized professionalism and cleanliness. 

Immediately after the change was finalized, I began to feel those familiar pangs of regret over not choosing the brave and hilarious option, over not having the courage to take a chance. It represented a missed opportunity to bring a little levity into my corporate existence. It felt like I had made a critical error in judgment, one that would haunt me forever. It deeply affected me; that evening, I was emotionally shriveled and had no ebullience in my heart. 

It has clearly taken on a significance greater than itself. It beckoned all of my insecurities around being the unremarkable asocial Andrew in professional environments, an Andrew that has a difficult time opening up and connecting and is ultimately unworthy of social belonging. It summoned my self-judgments over being risk-averse and always taking the sure bet. Gremlins with a long history came out to set upon my ego and make me feel like crap. 

I didn't realize right away what was going on. Amidst the intensity of my usual work days I couldn't sort through my feelings. In fact I sort of stumbled upon it, talking about the username change and then being blindsided by its attendant emotions. I realized how out-of-touch I can become with my heart when I'm in those work environments. It's like a switch that I turn on (or off?) to access my focused and professional side. 

Regret is a familiar presence in my life, something I unfortunately come by very easily even though I've dealt with it actively in recent years. Part of why I so easily fall into indecision and so highly value information gathering is that I perceive a steep emotional cost to making the "wrong" choice. Even after taking courses in decision analysis that taught me about tha evaluating a decision based on the outcome is nonsensical, I still instinctively do it. Here it caught me off guard by latching onto a relatively insignificant life event. In the grand scheme, this event is so obviously not a big deal, and yet when I finally acknowledged and felt the emotions it ballooned out of proportion to its actual significance. 

So here I am now sharing this event as a way of processing it. I could have achieved something brilliant with my username, but it didn't happen. Life *will* move on. andrewsm will stick, people will think nothing of it, and I will always quietly be "smandrew" on the inside. Also, I know what to pick the next time I have to pick a corporate login.