I found this post in my drafts, I started it in February after a work trip. I like what I started with, but I didn’t know how to end it. I still want to publish it, so here’s the part I wrote then.
This post I read the other day had me frustratedly thinking “yes, this, all the time” through the whole thing.
We use this blog to talk about our problem-solving, our resilience, our creativity, our self-accommodation and how those things make us successful by our own standards, but, like, sometimes there’s just no way around this:
I need you to be more careful.
I need you to pay more attention to the world around you and how it works.
I need you to watch your volume and where you are in space.
— Sometimes it’s not me, it’s you.
I just came back from a week in Amsterdam, traveling (by myself) to meet up with some coworkers (about 12 of us). There are things I try to do on these trips to make sure I’m still functional at the end, but a lot depends on the activities and interactions with my coworkers.
Most importantly is checking out the locations beforehand. On this trip, we booked hotel rooms and an airbnb apartment to work from. To be honest, I didn’t do as much of this step this time – I was in the hospital for a few days only 2 weeks before going, to have my gallbladder removed. In previous trips I’ve done things like picked out a few nearby cafes, so I could take a walk if needed. These meetups are very discussion focused and involve a lot of working closely together, both of which I find tiring, so I try to build in breaks every few hours. We took longer lunches this time, so I didn’t need as much of this.
We usually pick a project to work on as a group. Sometimes that means pair programming. I learned on my first meetup that I freeze up when pairing, so it’s a counterproductive task. If it sounds like pairing might happen, I would try to discuss alternatives — luckily this hasn’t come up since that first trip. I did end up working on a separate project for most of the week, though. I like being able to pace myself, and deep-dive into different things while working without feeling like I’m holding anyone else up.
I don’t think that defeats the in-person-ness of it, either — on the walks to dinner, I often ended up talking about what I’d found.
For the group discussions (like informal meetings), I also brought along a small bean bag to fidget with. I don’t think it was distracting? I hope not, anyway. We ended up going late most nights (until 2am once), so having a small focus object kept my attention on the topic… even when it was stuff I didn’t care about (hey, it’s a group of 13 people, all interested in different aspects of the company, it’ll happen).
This time, I made it through the week without crashing. I’m definitely feeling the effects now, though — exhausted and strangely anxious, hyper-aware of sound so much that I need music on to avoid misophonia, and still jumping every time my partner says something. Executive function is also a little shot, I keep having thoughts fly through my head and immediately forgetting them.
I think I might still have some jet lag going on, too.
I should be better in the next few days — but then I’m going on another trip, so I’ll start the travel routine all over again. Luckily I know the area a little, I’m staying in the same place I did last year for this conference.
And that’s where I ended. That second conference went well. It’s not a particularly accessible conference, but I knew that going in, and mostly stayed at my sponsor booth with coworkers. A few months later (today), I’m at yet another conference. Again, one I’ve been to before. I’m glad this one hasn’t changed venues, it’s nice to know where I am.