Most of this post was inspired by Sumana.

I was explaining to someone last week why I have such a manic documentation twitch. It teaches other people, shows them that the magic isn't really magic (it's hard work), and it prevents me from ever becoming a legend. Egotistical for me to think that way, I know. But if there's a nonzero chance, I'm going to squelch it as hard as I can. See the messiness. See the headdesking and the non-triumphant FAIL and the times I was a wimp and caved. See the utter lack of manifest destiny. See the freaking-out and the stumbling-along.

"These days, I just keep trying to expose the work under the beauty.... I cheated and used a pre-made sauce for the base -- let me show it to you. Exposing the hard labor (or the clever workarounds) that are necessary to trying to do it all..." -- Mary Anne Mohanraj

If I say "if I can do it, you can too" and get told "but you're Mel," along with a look of admiration, then I've failed. I don't want to stand up on a pedestal - maybe I'll top-rope there to drop a ladder if absolutely nobody else can climb, but then I'm rappelling down and pushing other people up that ladder - not because I'm selfless or anything, but because I'm very, very selfish in in Not Wanting To Be Up There, and if other people are up there, then I'm not. View Source: The Myth Repellent.

And that feeling I get sometimes of "oh, I'm not a real engineer, never really was"?

Yeine is a warrior who never makes war. Or at least, she doesn’t do it in any conventional sense. That’s the point. Yeine comes from a warrior culture. In her land, serious disputes are resolved in a straightforward and efficient manner: with a knife-fight. She’s pretty good at it, though we never see this... this must be intensely frustrating to most fantasy readers,  who are used to warriors making war, magicians making magic, thieves being all thievey, and so on.... in future novels, if I force a character to act against her habits/background, I’m going to give her at least one chance to use the old habits before she has to stifle herself. That, I think, will make it clearer that she’s choosing to play by new rules — that she could kick ass if she needed to, using the methods with which she’s most familiar, but she’s purposefully chosen a different path. --"Warriors who don't make war"

I could, I think, have been a pretty decent engineer, in the conventional sense of the word. Not just "have been." "Could be." Coder, roboticist, embedded ninja... there are some things (abstract math research, anything involving bio or chem) I see my ceiling for, things I could plod along on but would never be great at, things I just would never love enough to pursue long enough and hard enough to master. Other things... maybe. Things that may not come naturally (for instance, signal processing), but which I love regardless of how hard they are, and stand a chance of being able to do 'em long enough to truly grok enough to do something with it.

And then there's what I do now, which is what I love. Love love love. Would not trade for anything. Glad I'm getting to learn this and do this as early in my life as I am. Still, sometimes I wish I could "prove" better than I am and can be a damn good engineer (conventional definition). And I know I did get some engineering experience and that I did rather well when I was doing it, and I know that even if I'd worked "as an engineer" for a decade before switching to "community stuff" I would still not be satisfied because the field just changes so fast ("so you did that, but it was 2 years ago, so now you're clueless") so this isn't an unrequited burning something that'll rankle in me 'till I go back and fix it, taking a sabbatical to Hack Things Directly for a year or two wouldn't make me feel better about it. There will likely always be this tension. That's okay.

Finally, from this post - worth reading in its entirety, along with the comment thread:

"Diversity is the canary in the coal mine for meritocracy."

Best phrasing of that sentiment I've ever seen.