Soul Searching #1: introduction

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Well, let’s start at the beginning. This is a story about personal development, and touches upon curiosity, philosophy, algorithms, the human brain, creativity, and data (science). Basically, I’m going to write about every topic that I come across on my path of personal development.

It’s time for an introduction, I think. My name is Martijn, and I live in The Netherlands. My formal background is in Mathematics and Computer Science, and most recently I have been active in the Data Science field. I can program in many languages, e.g., Java, .NET, PHP, Matlab, R, and Python. I have worked with multi-core computing, cloud technology, APIs, and (software) design patterns. Also, I have a good head for algorithms, models, and bias. In the past, I messed about with hardware as well, think ‘fixing my pc in the Windows95 era’ and more recently Arduino’s.

And this is just the technical stuff. One of my favorite work activities is giving presentations and workshops, because the interaction with the audience somehow gives me energy. I have a way with words as well, both written and verbal. Also, I’m a people person: I enjoy coaching people, I form relationships with the people around me, and I try to be respectful. At work, I have an eye for ‘big company dynamics’, I actively think in terms of ‘mission’ and ‘vision’ and ‘values’, and I’m interested in (formal?) work processes. In my spare time I build wooden ship models, and by my calculations I have passed the 10,000 hour mark, which supposedly makes me an expert.

person with post-its on the wall behind him, and on his face. Some of the words written on the notes are: norms, expectation, society, hate, failure, soul.
Photo by Yasin Yusuf on Unsplash

I did not write this list to show off. It’s a precursor to the punch line: I think my entire life needs refocusing. In November 2019, the following things finally sank in:

  • I felt like there was a mismatch between what I can do, what I achieved, and how happy it made me.
  • I was frustrated, cynical, emotional, and generally not a fun guy to be around.
  • I had lost most of my passion for the field of Data Science.
  • I didn’t enjoy building production level software (incl. models and algorithms from the Data Science field), or the formal processes associated with it. (I do value both, of course)
  • My attention was partly moving away from technology.

I stuck around at my job for a while, but the dynamics of daily life did not leave me enough head space to figure things out. So in October 2020, I quit my job and took a sabbatical for a few months. At the time of writing (March 2021), I think it is time to clear my head a bit again and, hopefully, writing things down will help with that. Perhaps, my journey will help others with theirs.

Let me finish by saying that my journey is a happy and a positive one. It’s driven by a strong conviction that I’m about to start a period of growth. I’ve had (and will have) many ups and downs of course, but I feel that they are part of the process. See you next time!