After much deliberation, I think I’ve reached an important fork in the road of my professional career.
And while this might violate my rule of trying to keep it clean when writing online, I can’t think of a better way to say this: It’s time for me to shit or get off the pot. This is something I’ve been thinking about for months, but only within the last week has it become much more clear to me the roots of all I’ve been feeling lately.
When I got started in web development a decade ago, I didn’t have any formal training. I was working for a newspaper and was doing page layout, and was interested in what the web was becoming. I’d get some books, sit in my car during the lunch hour and read, then go home in the evening and tinker on the computer. That’s how I learned. Eventually that lead to an entry-level job doing something web related, and I did web work on the side to make a little income.
More experience meant more discovery which lead to a different job and more income. Life was good.
But then, something tragic happened. I stopped pushing myself and got complacent. No longer was I the guy who was buried in books and experimenting with things. The guy that tried building things put the Legos on the shelf and became content with what I had done to that point. And therein lies the problem.
Since then, my profession blew up. The tools and languages and frameworks and (blah, blah, blah) that are part of my profession now feel almost endless and overwhelming. I know I’m not alone in my feelings as evident in the reaction to Ed Finkler’s The Developer’s Dystopian Future.
All of these problems would be solvable, given time and motivation. But motivation determines how I use my time, and I am just not terribly motivated to use what spare time I have to change the situation. There are other, more important needs in my life that are not related to programming languages.
What I’m most scared of, though, is being left behind.
I relate very much to his post. Probably the one difference is that Finkler sounds like he might feel like he’s very strong in one or two areas. These days I don’t feel particularly strong in any one area. At one point I’ve might have said I was strong in a handful of things, but because I let some of my skills atrophy for awhile, it makes me wonder where I fit on the scale above. Am I a jack of all trades, master of none or dilettante? I’m not a supreme genius, that’s for sure. I know several developers who I just get nervous being around because they’re that good.
I’ve had a lot of growth in the past year or so, but I still feel like I’m playing catch up.
On the interwebz, I read something along the lines of “Is there an easy way to tell someone that they should find another line of work that doesn’t involve programming?” I could only wonder: Maybe he’s talking about me.
There is a possibility that I have reached a stage necessary for growth and that this is normal. Earlier this week I was talking with another developer who is in a similar situation. We decided we are, so to speak, in a pubescent state. That made a lot of sense. When you’re going through puberty, it’s very difficult to see what you will become. And that’s where I am now. I’m not sure where I’m going. Granted, the young teen will come out of the experience as an adult. But what kind of “adult” I will become? Now, I have no idea.
But I do feel like the time has come for me to make some decisions and see what happens. I can’t teeter on mediocrity anymore. I need to find my center.
It’s time to figure out where I’m going. Otherwise, I’m afraid I’ll just end up like this:
It’s getting harder and harder in this industry not to just get up and walk into the welcoming arms of the sea.