Identity Crisis for Former Accidental Techie

picture of a woman looking up at a sign that says "I am?"

There are some days that I regret that I’ve been so determined to shed the skin of being an accidental techie. I look back at old blog posts (such as my first on this blog – Welcome to My New Blog) and I wonder why I was so quick to transform away from being an accidental techie. I think there was some freedom that I had when my coworkers saw me as accidental that I don’t enjoy now.

Biggest thing to change? Failures/disruptions were allowed and almost expected where now disruptions are barely tolerated. The word failure to non-techies is also not kindly accepted. I know that for tech changes to happen and tech in general, that failure is a good thing. But in this world of mine now – “Post-Accidental-Techie” – failure is less acceptable.

The next thing that has seemed to change is that the level of worry related to ideas that are a ‘bit out there’. I struggle now when I have a thought that I know is a bit outside of the box for my coworkers. It seemed like it was more acceptable for me to speak those thoughts out when I wasn’t seen as an expert or when I wasn’t expected to know the answers. I think some people chuckled at the ideas that were way out there (I mean, ideas that are out of the ballpark, not even in just left field), and others could see that there was some spark of an idea that could be used. Now I find it is harder for me to find the path out of the ballpark and sometimes I find myself standing around third-base.

Lastly, I really miss the flexibility that the brand of accidental-techie allowed me to be. I could be good in so many different things that it was always changing. Now that I’m in the system as this purposeful techie, I don’t tend to go from project to project so easily. I get bogged down in the details. While it is necessary for projects, I have to wonder if something is getting lost by my mind being focused on those details. I think I sometimes function like there is a whole IT support company in my head. There is one part that is all about the network support, one part is the Microsoft Office expert, and yet another part that knows the Cisco VOIP system. Sometimes they function well together and communicate, but sometimes, the parts seem to be isolated. (Note, these parts don’t have ‘names’ so there is no split personality issue here.)

While I will continue to strive to help other accidental techies move from being accidental, I think I don’t want to lose parts of what made me so good at being an accidental techie. It reminds me a lot of a book that I read several years ago while still at the School of Social Work. It had explained that for almost every social movement there is a time when the term that had seemed so negative almost was reclaimed and used in a different light – that the term changes from negative to a positive force to help promote change. Maybe it’s time to say it is ok to be an accidental techie, that you might not have to go and force all the formal trainings to prove that you understand technology in order to manage the technology. Maybe it’s simply ok to be accidental.

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