Behind the Curtain

Some people are just born to be on stage. They thrive when the bright lights are bright and focused on them. They draw their energy and motivation from all the eyes upon them. I’m not one of those people. I prefer it when I’m doing everything behind the curtain – that’s not to say I don’t thrive under pressure or anything, but I do my best work when nobody’s looking directly at me. When there are no expectations.

One of my favorite things about starting on a new project is that nobody is expecting anything of you. If you end up making absolute garbage, it doesn’t matter. You can just not push the publish button, and the world need not know of your unsatisfactory work.

This isn’t quite so for me at the moment, and it’s been a massive source of stress for me over the past couple of weeks. As I’m sure pretty much everyone knows, in addition to my day job at Realm, I’m a core team member on both CocoaPods and Bundler. Lately, I’ve felt a lot more inclined to hack on Bundler than CocoaPods in my spare time.

And I think it comes down to me not liking other people having expectations of me. When there are expectations, it’s so hard to feel like you’re a success. Even if you do something amazing, if it’s been expected of you, you feel like you’ve accomplished nothing. If, however, you present the work out of the blue, everyone speaks their gratitude, and you get recognized for having done something wonderful. Same work. Different expectations. Guess which one makes you feel better?

I love working on Bundler because I know that Andr√© will keep things running smoothly, and that any contributions I make will just be adding forward momentum. On CocoaPods, however, I’m the one who’s making sure the wheels keep on turning. If I go a week without a commit, it’s out of the ordinary, and I feel like I’m letting the rest of the team, and all of our users down.

I want to go back to being the proverbial man behind the curtain, the eccentric designer that the audience need not know about, that there are no expectations. That my contributions are not taken for granted, but rather are a nice surprise.