Profile Picture
Hassaan Markhiani

🤕 Herniated disc kicked my ass (2023)

I want to capture my thoughts and feelings from this moment in time. I often wonder how I thought about life in the past. I want to be able to travel back in time and revisit my thoughts, but that isn't possible. The next best thing is to record my thoughts in the moment, so I can have something to reflect on in the future. Tangentially related, one habit I'm trying to instill is to transform regrets about the past into actions I can take in the present.

Dealing with the disc herniation injury was one of the most difficult experiences in my life. It was just a mental challenge. The road to recovery isn't fully dictated by my efforts. That was a hard pill to swallow. The journey itself was so long, and I started to question if I'd ever be able to play again. Or if I even should try to play again. The injury prevented me from interacting with Micah the way I wanted to. Seeing his reaction when I told him that I can't play with him was heartbreaking. Do I even want to risk going through this again? Thankfully, I was able to make a full recovery and overcome this challenge. I need to make my health a priority, so that I can be active with my kids throughout their lives. That is a non-negotiable requirement.

I can't fully express into words just how much joy Micah brings to my life. Life is fucking amazing because he's in it. I don't mean to say that life can't be difficult cause of him. It absolutely can. However, the pros outweigh the cons by so much. We decided to try for a second kid, and we were succesful! We're expecting a baby girl to arrive in May 2024. Micah helped us decide on her name: Lilah. We added an "h" at the end to create an "ah" pattern haha.

I decided to change teams at work. I had been on my old team for 3+ years, so it felt like a change would be good. My team became a platform team during the last reorg, and I've always struggled to find motivation on platformy projects. When a good friend of mine asked me to join his team, it sounded like a good opportunity to work on a product team (Invoicing). Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out how I hoped. I didn't get to work with my friend much because he was always busy with tech lead work. I didn't really get to do much product work. A lot of the product ambiguity was alreayd figured out for the projects I got. The org had a fear driven and urgency drive culture. It makes for a terrible work environment. Finally, I didn't end up clicking with my manager. I had a feeling there might be some struggles there because another friend of mine had issues. I like to think I'm pretty similar to my friend, so, in hindsight, it was obvious that I'd have issues with the manager as well. I guess my hubris got to me. I've had multiple exceeding expectation reviews at Stripe, so I thought that would allow me to overcome most challenges. I was wrong. I kept non-trusting vibes from my manager. It felt like he kept getting in my way and getting unnecessarily involved in my projects. It kept feeling like I had to prove to him that I could do that work I was assigned to do. It was frustrating and annoying. Unfortunately, it bled into my personal life because I'd waste time on pointless conversations and tasks. As a result, I wouldn't spend much time with Micah after work. He started noticing it and would often ask if I'm done working.

I've also been rethinking my pursuit of FIRE. I'm starting to get burned out from the path of optimizing for comp. It's better to have a long enjoyed path than a shorter stressed path. What this probably means for me is to find work that I enjoy (as much is reasonably possible from a job).

Slightly related to above, I've arrived at the conclusion that I should use money to help people I care about now vs the future. Who knows if we'll all even survive to a point in the future when we can utilize the money. More importantly, the money will have a much larger quality of life improvement now vs later. Sure, it means delaying FIRE, but it's better to have a long enjoyed path than a shorter less satisfying path.

This isn't something that necessarily happened last year, but I want to write down a motivation I have. I want to have trajectory changing impact on people’s lives. Being able to make someone's life better that way brings me so much satisfaction. This is what drives me to pair with engineers that have less experience than me and give them the tools to become a better engineer than me by the time they have the same amount of experience as me. My greatest accomplishment from this aspect was the impact I had on the careers of my brother and two friends I met through Goco. I didn't make them better engineers, but I showed them that they had the ability to work as higher caliber companies. With those moves, they were able to make significantly more income, which will be trajectory changing financial growth for them.

I'm not sure how much I want to publicly talk about my ADHD journey. It gives me feelings of embarrassment that I can't easily describe. I misunderstood what ADHD was. I used to think it wasn't a real disease. Even after I got a diagnosis from a medical professional that conducted multiple tests and sessions over 6 weeks, I wasn't sure if I actually had it, or if I had just tricked the psychiatrist into thinking I had it. It's something I always suspected I struggled with, but I was never sure because I did well in school. I knew a few classmates who had, and I wasn't the same as them. My struggles primarily came from issues with focusing. At times, it was like pulling hair to get me to focus on a task, but, at other times, I could focus on a task for hours without eating. I've always struggled with punctuality and "time blindness." Deadlines are how I always got work done. Along with other struggles, I learned that a lot of them had to do with executive planning. Funny enough, what finally got me to consider the possibility was a Tik Tok video describing ADHD. It helped me understand what it actually was. Too many things reflected my life. Then I came across a book called Driven to Distraction. It's a great way to learn about the struggles. I saw so much of myself in it. I saw so much of my mom in it. I'm sure she has it too, and that's where I got it from. I eventually learned another close relative had been diagnosed with it. I finally mustered up the courage to get an assessment. Working up to that was tough. I kept asking myself why does it matter since I've made it this far in life without help? What will this change now anyway? How will I explain this to my wife? In the end, what pushed my past the line was how my life was being affected. Before having Micah, I was able to cope with the struggles by putting in more time. If I couldn't get work done during work hours, I'd just work late into the night. This was fine when I only had to worry about myself. When Micah came into my life, I couldn't do that anymore. It either meant I wouldn't be able to spend time with him, or that I wouldn't get enough sleep. I chose skipping on sleep, but that caught up to me and made my life miserable. Everything I've said up to now actually happened in 2022, but I wanted to share it here since I wasn't writing back then. In 2023, I got help, and it made a huge impact on my life. The combination of cognitive behavior therapy and medication has helped me manage and minimize my struggles. Honestly, cognitive behavior therapy for ADHD is just good advice for time managment that could help anyone.

This was an amazing year for travel. We went to Italy, a trip around Asia, and Disney World for Micah's first experience There's a lot I want to say about this, but I'm writing all of this much later in the future. It's hard to recall and distill all of my feelings. The one thing that I do want to mention is that traveling with Micah is an indescribable feeling. The trip was definitely more challenging because of him and we were limited in what we could do. With that said, we spent so much time with him. We got to see him experience new things. It brought me so much joy. I want to prioritize traveling with him and Lilah for the rest of our lives.

I just want to jot down my current goals and thoughts on life. I want to be happy and enjoy life as much as I can. I want to enable the loved ones around me to do the same. This is essentially all it boils down to. More specifically, I want to make life easy for my aging parents and in-laws that have done so much for us. I want to help my siblings that are struggling for whatever reason. I want my kids to grow up and be close to their grandparents, so I want to move both grandparents to live within a short walking distance of us. I want to spend a lot of time with my kids and wife. I want to have amazing experiences with them, so I'd like to have one large trip we can take every year. Ideally, an international trip.