Uncertainty, Intimidation & the Stupid one in the room
Indradhanush Gupta
3 min read



It has been a week since I arrived at New York and I have also managed to complete my first week of the Recurse Center. And the good news is that I survived!

Leading up to the first day at RC I felt a bit nervous, mostly because of two reasons:

  1. This is the first time I’ve stepped out of my country (India) and travelled so far out.
  2. I quit my job to do this, I better make the most of this (hello, impostor syndrome).

Naturally the nervousness carried into my first day, but once I started speaking to a few people, from my batch and the overlapping one, things seemed to settle down a bit. Veit Heller explained my thoughts on this in a nice blog post better than I could have done myself. However, I was not prepared for another thing: uncertainty.

Although the nerves calmed down a bit, but the uncertainty still loomed large over my head. I knew which areas I wanted to focus on during my time at RC, which was networking and systems programming, the projects that I had in mind were outside my programming capabilities. But that is the point of RC, to be able to push your abilities each day.

By the end of the first day, I was doing something completely unexpected. I spoke to Hang Lu Su about my inhibitions with math, and she recommended a few resources that explain math concepts in a much more intuitive way. And I found myself reading up on calculus from here.

I wanted to write an HTTP load balancer and a distributed shell. So I started researching about these on the second day. And yet more unexepected things followed. I found myself digging through a blog post on hashing which included some serious math. I took the help of Katrina Evtimova and she was very patient with my stupid questions for most part of two days. I had definitely not anticipated digging into deep math right at the beginning. I enjoyed the blog post once I was able to understand the math behind it.

Uncertainty is not such a bad thing, because it creates some space for serendipity. Which can be amazing. And at RC, you will find plenty of both.

I discussed about my project ideas with Saul Pwanson and his suggestion was that I start off with writing a basic shell first and build off from there. I took that advice and made some progress on that although, not as much as I would have liked.

I also paired with Jaseem Abid on understanding LLVM code generated for a tiny script I wrote in C. It was a very fun exercise, of which I would like to learn more about.

RC is like a minefield. Take any corner, desk or room, wherever you go, you will step on a landmine which explodes with knowledge you had no clue about.

I’ve lurked and participated on a number of conversations here and I have been awestruck by the awesomeness of the people around me. I am the stupid one in the room and I try my best to listen and grasp all that I can. A few things do slip my attention but there’s a lot happening at RC all the time, and one can only keep up with so much simultaneously. This gets a bit challenging, but I’ve started taking extensive notes, which seem to be helping my cause.

I’ve also come up with a bunch of smaller project ideas along the way that I might experiment with. I will write about them in more detail later on if I end up exploring them.


I have also had the chance of exploring the city, most of which has been on foot. The city has amazing parks and you can sense a thriving community when you visit one of them.

I spoke to Nicole Orchard and got some good advice on buying and using a bike in New York and I was able to get myself one, which I have started using for my commute. The ride is about 8 miles, most of which is by the river Hudson.

Me, by the river Hudson on the bike

The stay has been very enjoyable so far, and I look forward to another great week at RC!