Kin Lane

I Was Never Good At Anything Until API Evangelist

Most weeks I am fine, but I have been working hard lately and the pandemic as well as other things arrive been catching up to me. I found myself going into the weekend not caring about APIs at all, which is extremely unusual for me. Normally I have to force myself to put down the myriad of projects I have loaded up in my head during the week and find something else to focus my overactive brain on. The question is always what do I do? Reading a book is usually the answer, or sometimes doodling, drawing, painting, or doing some fictional writing. This last weekend I found myself so low that I couldn’t even enjoy a book, and my brain was empty of any creative ideas for investing into any side project. Leaving me feeling down, questioning who I am, what my purpose is, and just sitting staring out the window onto the street below. You see, my whole identity is wrapped up in the world of APIs, and while most of the time I am fine with that, I find myself in these moments feeling that I need much more than just performing in this online production, and where I always get stuck is with the reality that other than API Evangelist I really haven’t been good at anything in my life—I have been pretty much stuck in mediocre white guy mode.

I was 38 years old when I started API Evangelist, and before that I really hadn’t found success doing much. In my twenties I found moderate success as a drug dealing music promoter, and then in my 30s I was a mediocre programmer and lead developer. Then into my late 30s I found myself divorced, in debt, and looking for my next hustle. APIs interested me, and I saw the potential after seeing the success of the Amazon cloud and the Apple iPhone. I threw myself into studying APIs and writing about what I was seeing with such a determination, there wasn’t room for much else. It was API Evangelist 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. In the beginning I didn’t even have a home, we mostly just lived in hotel rooms and went from city to city attending meetups, conferences, and hackathons. I worked my ass off until I had made a name for myself. I grew my beard long, started wearing unique hats, and wore the same shirt with my logo on it to stand out. Eventually it worked and I made a name for myself. Over a decade later I know APIs. I understand them very well. I get the game that has emerged around publishing and consuming APIs, and I have stuck to being an expert in the technology, business, and politics of APIs. However, along with all of this knowledge I have also learned that it really is a just bullshit game, and that while APIs are impacting almost every business sector out there, they really are doing more harm than good, and that while I can continue making a career doing them well, and shining a light on the ethical side of doing APIs, it really it isn’t worth dedicating my entire life to—I need more to actually feel satisfied as a human being.

So….what do I do? I am not really good at anything else. I like to write. But there really isn’t a topic that I am interested in as much as APIs. I do like to write fiction (not sure I am good at it). I do like to write about how technology is negatively impacting our world, but I can’t really make a living doing this. I guess I don’t really need to make a living doing it, I just need to offset my very online world of API Evangelist and Chief Evangelist at Postman. I am making good money, and pretty successful at what I do. So I don’t need to actually find some other way to make a living, I just need to balance myself out so that I don’t burnout and find myself unable to do what it is that I do each day. I think ultimately I just have to learn to be satisfied with the success I have had in the world of APIs, and not try to find something that sizes up to all of this, and find something that actually makes me happy. Writing does this. My art does this. I really enjoy building my Algorotoscope machine learning models, and I like thinking about various writing and art projects associated with my Digital Self work. I think I will just focus my energies here in the same way I did API Evangelist in the early early years—minus the needing to hustle to make money. I’ll just focus on taking photos and applying my Alogorotoscope ML models to them, and thinking deeply about the cybernetic world at the intersection of our physical and digital self. This is how I will spend my evenings and weekends, offsetting my busy days at Postman. I don’t need to be good or great at these projects, I just need to offset the heavy digital weight of being the Chief Evangelist and API Evangelist.

As usual I think I have to learn to give myself a break. It is alright if nobody reads my creative writing. It is already if my artwork isn’t that good. All it has to do is provide me with an outlet. I just need to feel human. This is my challenge. I am so intensely digital all week, thinking and performing in a digital world, that I don’t feel like a human being the rest of the time. I just need my writing and art to emphasize that Kin Lane is a physical human being, and not just this digital version of Kin Lane that has been fabricated over the last decade. Kin Lane on Twitter, Github, Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtube, and the various blogs I publish on are just the digital version of myself, and is something that does not outweigh the physical version of who Kin Lane is. I feel like this is more than just about me working to hard, and is more about me balancing my online and offline self, and not letting my digital reality draining my physical reality. The Internet carries a lot of weight in our world today, and while I benefit from the ability to make a living working online, it cannot be at the expense of my physical and mental health. I can see this reality for what it is, the trick is to remember it each day as I finish working, and each weekend as I put down my work and spend time with my family,. Something that is even harder in a COVID-19 world where my options for doing things outside of my house has gotten a lot harder. I am going to work on coming up with physical reminders I the form of drawings and carvings around my ouse that remind me of the balance that I want to strike, helping remind me I am good at what I do, and I just need to keep being good at what I do.