295
fzammetti
119d

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
  • 25
    Favorited!
  • 4
    @irene if you are actually bad you will hear it from colleagues or at least they wont ever ask you a question.
  • 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.
  • 3
    If you have a blog I want to read it.
  • 2
    @irene

    FX [ Hugs. ]

    What are the top ten things you find causes you the most stress ?
  • 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.
  • 8
    @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
    @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
  • 3
    @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
    @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
    @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.
  • 2
    > 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 !
  • 1
    > 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/...
  • 2
    @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.
  • 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.
  • 1
    @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.
  • 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.
  • 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
    @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.
  • 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
    @irene sentience is what will spread life outside of Earth.
  • 0
    @irene that's not an argument.
  • 0
    This is the post I needed to see today! Thanks sensei 🙏🏽🥺
  • 0
    @irene been several months you are in that situation. What about actually considering relocation?
  • 1
    @irene I know Im late to the party on this discussion but I just want to express my understanding as someone who also now works with a company (contracted from my normal place od work) that has the *worst* management issues ever. Huge project, huge funding, yet the tasks have just a vague description and the analysts are next to useless. I often spend 2-3 days just scavenging for information on what Im actually supposed to do... Poorly described tasks are the worst ..
  • 0
    WHO IS IRENE????
  • 0
    @sylvia

    Should have gone for:

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

    > Come On Eileen! (The REAL Lyrics)
  • 1
    @Nanos 😂😂 not meee never meee~~
  • 0
    @OscarWildes

    I needed to hear this as well. Just landed a real dev job, I feel like Pinnichio wanting to be a real boy.

    Scared as shit changing from php to javascript.
  • 0
    Okay, thanks.
    Deleting your post, @irene , destroyed the thread.

    @OP : I feel you!
    My first "Hello World" in BASIC was on a Commodore C16, some time in 1986.
    My first in C was summer 1990 on an Amiga 500 using the Aztec C 5 Compiler.

    And the days, on which I do not learn something new, get stuck on some problem or bang my head on the table, are rare.

    But that's why I am in this business and why I am working on FOSS:
    If, on the last day before I retire, I learn something new, then I will have had the best work life possible.

    Doing the same everyday, with no progress, no personal learning and development, never getting forward, would bore my pants off.
  • 2
    @Yamakuzure Irene didn’t delete his post. He deleted his account which deletes all the posts. Many Irene threads died when he left.

    I switched to the username because I thought it was funny. Turns out changing a username is once every six months so I’m going to be Irene for a while.
  • 1
    @irene Irene was a guy???
  • 2
  • 0
    @irene

    > He deleted his account

    Do we know why he deleted his account ?

    > which deletes all the posts.

    I guess there is no, 'delete all posts' button ?
  • 0
    @irene

    > Many Irene threads died when he left.

    I'm guessing they don't include a dummy empty message so threads don't die, like they do on other social media platforms !

    Well, I know of at least two that put in dummy posts if one is deleted, the rest, just fall apart !

    Think of future data archaeologists who discovering this database, find lots of holes in it and wonder what the missing pieces was..
  • 1
    @Nanos I would assume that records are soft deleted but simply are no longer returned as part of the collection. The username is not a primary key because all other comments that mention @ Irene are not part of my history. So each username has a uuid and the notifications are generated at post time with reference to the uuid at the time the person commented.

    I don’t know if we can definitively say that the posts are deleted or the uuid is removed and those records are no longer queryable.
  • 0
    @irene

    Some systems have a purge command that hard deletes the contents of posts.

    Handy if you want to stop someone from restoring their deleted posts. :-)

    I'm reminded how you can use this kind of thing to hide, eg. you delete your own message, but it isn't really deleted, but because its deleted, the admin can't delete it again...

    Then later on, when the admin isn't watching, you undelete it.

    So, if you are an admin, you have to be quick, delete it, then purge it, before the user deletes it themselves, because then, you can't touch it !

    This wouldn't be a problem if, admin delete, overrode the user delete..
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