I didn't get fired and built some cool stuff.
- Me, 2018
I'm all for year-end reviews. They can be motivating and inspiring, and we know we all need a little encouragement now and then. I'm happy people post them and collect their social-media accolades.
That said, "Compare and Despair" is real.
For example, I follow Sarah Drasner on Twitter. She's great- insightful, funny, VERY knowledgeable and supportive of her community. She speaks all over the world, (now) has a great family life and has a (seemingly) baller job at Microsoft. Her year-end review was full of world travel, insightful blog posts, marriage and high-status Microsoft work.
When I went to write mine, it can pretty much be summed up like this:
We live in a time where our employment status is not guaranteed. Our field is, I'd argue, more in flux than most. New technology is coming out all the time and the pressure to "diversify your portfolio" is REAL (to me, anyway). I have experienced "compare and despair" when I see other people achieving great things. I wonder on occasion:
"What's wrong with me?"
"Why am I not motivated to blog/code/OSS-anything in my spare time?"
"Am I an OSS thief?"
I'm one of those "non-trad" developers. I got into the field at 35 years old after what was largely a failed music career (playing "Sugar, We're Going Down" in the college bars for the 1547th time was not what I had in mind when I went to grad school). I have taken advantage of the great community support for newbies (Ruby on Rails is my stack) and have bootstrapped my way into being a decent developer.
I'm 39, now, and finally can afford to have the kind of lifestyle I thought music would afford me (hello, world travel!). However, to be brutally honest, I don't have the enthusiasm or seemingly endless energy to code like I used to have when I was writing jazz music until the wee hours of the morning after teaching all day. I like CS and am grateful to be a developer, but for me it's a means to an end.
I don't write OSS code in my off-time.
I don't go to tech meetups regularly.
I have spoken a couple of times (RailsConf 2016 & 2017), but don't have a burning desire to be the next @tenderlove (although if Aaron wants to tour as geek comics, count me in!).
I say all this to say it can feel like if you're not out there blogging or making PRs for OSS or podcasting about the latest JS framework, you're being left behind.
As my Duolingo Vietnamese lessons would say:
Học và chơi; chơi và học
- Learn and play; play and learn (Duolingo)
As long as you're doing your job and learning a little bit along the way, you will be fine.
So, here's to all the anonymous developers who put in their 40 chopping digital wood for an honest day's wage. Cheers.
As software gets more and more integrated into our lives, the industrialization of its crafting process becomes inevitable. But the over-generalization of software engineering can be crushing the creative side of programming.