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This is more just a note for younger and less experienced devs out there...

I've been doing this for around 25 years professionally, and about 15 years more generally beyond that. I've seen a lot and done a lot, many things most developers never will: built my own OS (nothing especially amazing, but still), created my own language and compiler for it, created multiple web frameworks and UI toolkits from scratch before those things were common like they are today. I've had eleven technical books published, along with some articles. I've done interviews and speaking engagements at various user groups, meetups and conferences. I've taught classes on programming. On the job, I'm the guy that others often come to when they have a difficult problem they are having trouble solving because I seem to them to usually have the answer, or at least a gut feel that gets them on the right track. To be blunt, I've probably forgotten more about CS than a lot of devs will ever know and it's all just a natural consequence of doing this for so long.

I don't say any of this to try and impress anyone, I really don't... I say it only so that there's some weight behind what I say next:

Almost every day I feel like I'm not good enough. Sometimes, I face a challenge that feels like it might be the one that finally breaks me. I often feel like I don't have a clue what to do next. My head bangs against the wall as much as anyone and I do my fair share of yelling and screaming out of frustration. I beat myself up for every little mistake, and I make plenty.

Imposter syndrome is very real and it never truly goes away no matter what successes you've had and you have to fight the urge to feel shame when things aren't going well because you're not alone in those feelings and they can destroy even the best of us. I suppose the Torvald's and Carmack's of the world possibly don't experience it, but us mere mortals do and we probably always will - at least, I'm still waiting for it to go away!

Remember that what we do is intrinsically hard. What we do is something not everyone can do, contrary to all the "anyone can code" things people do. In some ways, it's unnatural even! Therefore, we shouldn't expect to not face tough days, and being human, the stress of those days gets to us all and causes us to doubt ourselves in a very insidious way.

But, it's okay. You're not alone. Hang in there and go easy on yourself! You'll only ever truly fail if you give up.

Comments
  • 13
    Favorited!
  • 5
    But how do you differ that from being genuinely bad?
  • 4
    @irene if you are actually bad you will hear it from colleagues or at least they wont ever ask you a question.
  • 3
    @Codex404 so if I'm feeling like useless shit right now but my colleagues engage in tech talk with me then I'm not that big of a shit?
  • 3
    @irene

    I think in today's world there is a big downer on anyone (More so men..) who thinks positive of themselves, as such I reckon there is this infestation into our psyche from outside forces.

    Something you see less of in rich folk I notice.
  • 4
    If you have a blog I want to read it.
  • 3
    @Nanos I'm not just a bit negative. Sometimes I'm near suicidal, when stress is overwhelming.
  • 2
    @irene

    FX [ Hugs. ]

    What are the top ten things you find causes you the most stress ?
  • 5
    @Nanos having unclear instructions. That is the most irritating.
  • 2
    @cst1992 I do, but truthfully I don't write much on it, and most of the time it's not about development anyway and is just some random shit. But, if interested, you'll find it at zammetti.com, along with everything else me.
  • 7
    @irene That's a tough question because the truth is that some developers ARE just truly bad and will never be much better. But, I'd say the fact that you care (otherwise you wouldn't be stressed) is a good sign. Devs who don't give a shit are the worst, but you obviously do, and I think as long as people see that then you're okay. I see you mentioned unclear instructions as a big stresser. Never be afraid to push, hard, for clarification. You can't build something if you don't understand what you're supposed to build. Also, the hard truth is you might be in a bad environment and there's no way you can succeed in it no matter what you do. So, don't be afraid to leave for somewhere else if need be- but you have to be brutally honest with yourself to determine that, and that's not easy. Most importantly, don't be afraid to tell people you're struggling and need help. If it's a good place, they will understand and help and will see your admission as a positive, not a negative.
  • 3
    @fzammetti I ask clarification's but sometimes I feel like maybe I am just too stupid to understand and bother people with questions.
  • 2
    @irene indeed, the only reason people socialize is because they can benefit from skills they dont have. If you were indeed shite than it would be way easier for them to just do it alone
  • 2
    @Codex404 well, I'm a contractor. It's my job to do assignments
  • 4
    @irene Don't feel that way! Easier said than done, I know, but there's plenty of times I have to ask lots of questions, sometimes seemingly basic ones that it feels like I shouldn't need to, and I feel dumb for having to, but when you're trying to communicate complex ideas between people with varying expertise, it's not always easy to get the information across. Chances are you aren't dumb and asking questions is part of the job frankly. And if someone is going to fire you for asking too many questions then you don't want to work for them anyway, so this is really just about your feelings of inadequacy. All I can say is we all feel that way sometimes and all you can do is your best. I'll tell you as someone who manages other developers nothing pisses me off more than someone who struggles for days, fails, and it turns out if they had just asked one or two simple questions then it would have turned out differently. The only thing dumb about that is being too ashamed to ask a question.
  • 2
    @fzammetti okay, i'm probably that dumb one who's afraid to ask
  • 3
    @irene It's very easy to think "gee, I'm being paid good money to do a job, they hired me expecting me to know everything, so asking questions is a sign of weakness and not being up to the job". But that's not usually the case really. Most of the time, you're hired for your ability to learn and quickly synthesize that information into a solution. As big and varied as this field is - and that's before even mentioning the domain knowledge - it's unreasonable to expect people to be able to do that without asking questions.

    And actually, that's a good point: do you feel like the questions you need to ask are technical, or more "business" knowledge? How you address the concern might be different depending on which it is.
  • 2
    @fzammetti my question is: give me a bullet list of what thing you want me to do. Because they literally have a task with only title.
  • 3
    @irene That doesn't at all sound like a failing on your part then. You can't be expected to just make shit up (not unless you're an architect like me!) Unless that's expressly what they WANT from you I suppose, but it doesn't seem like that's the situation you're in. They're setting you up for failure from what you describe and that's not your fault. But, it DOES, unfortunately, become your responsibility to push, and you're going to have to be assertive about it, along the lines of "look, I cannot do the job you hired me for with the informaiton provided... please give me the information I need and ask for, otherwise this engagement is going to have to end". Either that or confirm that they're okay with you basically going cowboy and just getting it done in whatever way YOU see fit. If they're not providing requirements in a suitable form ("suitable" being somewhat negotiable) then that's not your problem, it's theirs, and you have no reason to feel dumb or inadequate.
  • 1
    @fzammetti also they gave me a task of writing software requirements. To a regular programmer.
  • 1
    > they hired me expecting me to know everything,

    I got hired for the most jobs when I would say I knew nothing about the job at all !

    They said they liked my honesty. :-)

    I was good at other things, so they was happy to give me a try, and I was happy to try.

    I usually managed well.

    But it does faze folk when they ask me if I know how to do X and Y, and I say, "nope, not at all !"

    My main skill is problem solving..

    Sometimes I can call upon remembering an answer !
  • 2
    > unclear instructions as a big stresser.

    > Never be afraid to push, hard,

    > for clarification.

    Totally agree there.

    I'd go further and say that most communications are an ongoing process, as few people say in the first sentence 100% what they want.

    And what they want, may differ from what they need.

    As such, it is in my book perfectly normal to constantly maintain a path of communication where you are asking the other person to be more specific about what they want, and providing them with progress reports and examples as you go along.

    It's an ongoing progress.

    Like building a new product, you constantly evolve its design over time as new facts come to light about what it should be.

    That comes mainly from user feedback.

    Communication is often an underused tool in my view.

    I suspect it isn't taught in education anymore, with folk told to sit down, shut up and do as they are told and never to question anything..
  • 1
    @fzammetti

    I can make shit up by the ton at the drop of a hat. :-)

    Never ask me to do that, your'll drown in it in no time. :-)

    But often folk have no idea what they want, or need, and they need someone with knowledge of the area to give them a starting point.

    "I want a game."..

    Well, what kind of game, single player, multi-player, both ?

    Like twenty questions..

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...
  • 3
    @irene That might be okay if (a) you knew that going in and (b) they understand that obviously means part of your duty IS, by definition, asking questions. It sounds like their expectations were out of wack from the start.
  • 1
    @fzammetti no, that was a surprise. Just "that thing is now assigned to you".
  • 2
    @Nanos Yeah, totally true. Even when you vetted requirements in hand, still take them with a grain of salt.
  • 2
    @irene Yeah, it sounds like you might be in a toxic situation. I know turning down money is never easy but you might want to consider ending the engagement. It's not worth your mental health.
  • 2
    @fzammetti I will not find anything new here without relocation to somewhere else.
  • 2
    @irene

    I know that feeling.
  • 1
    @fzammetti

    Reminds me of romantic relationships..
  • 0
    @irene go to a doctor, being near suicidal from time to time is a bad habit.

    Stop that shit right now.
  • 0
    @galileopy I am not fully suicidal. Instincts won't let me, also fear of pain.
  • 1
    @irene doesn't matter, that shit grows like a cancer.

    One day it may become too big to handle. Just go. Even if you're afraid. Just go.

    Being brave is not being fearless, it is to face your fears whatever they are.
  • 0
    @galileopy so what if it will be too much to handle?
  • 1
    I’m not going to lie, I needed to hear this. Thank you! 🙏
  • 0
    @irene well, I wouldn't like that you kill yourself.

    But that's me being selfish.

    You see, you are not just you. You are all of us. You are life. You shouldn't risk becoming a man that takes someone's life.
  • 0
  • 0
    @irene I think he means your life is never just your own, there are others with a right over it as well.

    In any case, killing yourself is never a good idea. The wheel always turns around.
  • 0
    @cst1992

    > The wheel always turns around.

    Sadly I've seen folk live for decades and die of old age before that ever happened.

    Well, more neglect than old age, they could have lived longer, but I guess they just lost the will to care about looking after their health.

    I can quite understand why people might want to avoid that.

    Having spoken to some who before they left this world, they was utterly convinced they couldn't improve their lives.

    And these was smart people.

    I think I'm smarter..

    But I haven't succeeded yet in turning my wheel around !

    Maybe I never will and I'll die trying of old age..

    But I've got the power of devRant to help me solve my problems. ;-)

    So fingers crossed if I get stuck !

    I'm reminded of:

    https://youtube.com/watch/...

    > Queen - The Show Must Go On (Official Video)
  • 0
    @cst1992 @irene just try to think for a few days about the odds of atoms arranged so perfectly that they host a sentient being.
  • 1
    @galileopy meh. Sentience doesn't have much evolutionary advantage
  • 0
    @irene you are wrong.

    Try to get to the point that we are information. Really think about it. Don't give me canned answers. You can do better.
  • 0
  • 0
    @irene sentience is what will spread life outside of Earth.
  • 0
    @galileopy probably not.
  • 0
    @irene that's not an argument.
  • 1
    @galileopy that's not a proof either.
  • 1
    This is the post I needed to see today! Thanks sensei 🙏🏽🥺
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