"What do you do when you decide to give up on your dream?"
It's one of the things I find myself saying during job interviews as I get stuck in my head, overanalyzing each little thing I'm about to say.
It usually comes up when the interviewer asks, "what got you into programming?"
I wonder how the early 20-somethings answer? I can imagine them saying things like, "when I first signed into Facebook, I was interested in the..." Or, "I joined a programming subreddit for kicks, and it led to..."
As a 38 year old, newbie programmer I never know where to start with this question.
Should I bring up that in 1988, I wrote a program in Basic on an Apple iie that I forgot to save on a 5 1-4 inch floppy drive and got really mad about it?
What about the time I took that computer class in Middle School around 1993, and I wrote a text based choose your own adventure game that got me an A but I stopped programming because I was getting bullied too mercilessly for being a nerd and got more into Nirvana and sports?
Thankfully I usually realize that I shouldn't talk about those things because the interviewer probably hadn't even been born then.
So I move a bit up my timeline.
After graduating from college, I got involved in the music industry, and eventually wrote for blogs about music and pop culture. I interviewed people like Lewis Black, Nick Swardson, Amy Schumer, and even Shaq.
But what happens when your dream dies?
Being a writer was all I ever could imagine myself doing, what am I even doing trying to be a programmer?
Even worse, what can I tell this person that's close to half my age, and with 1/10th of my life experience, to convince them that I'll be a great dev?
I know I was gritting my teeth and writing code for my first web app 15 hours a day, 6 days a week, over 3 months without any prior experience. And I know that when it worked it was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life.
I know that when I used to sit to write articles I was constantly distracted, but when I sit to write code I have to set alarms to remind myself to drink water or get up to stretch my legs.
I know that no form of writing has ever been as satisfying as writing code. That as much as I love writing poetry, with all the imagery it creates, the beauty and marvel, that it doesn't hit the sweet spot like when writing the JS for an event listener making an actual thing move right before my very eyes.
So I try.
I don't even know if this is what's supposed to be said in these types of interviews. I've watched my fair share of interview prep videos on YouTube, but they can feel like your mom nagging you to make sure your hair is combed before going to church.
But I'm amazed by it. Working with code is beautiful and majestic, how can I not try to talk about that instead of preferring tabs to spaces.
So I lay it out, secretly afraid I'm saying everything wrong, I studied the wrong things, am too old, am too talkative, am not the right fit, or any other thing I imagine going wrong.
But, on the other hand, does it really matter? To be one of the few that can write words and create magic? I'll be wrong about it until I'm not.
It kinda makes it worth the trials, don't you think?