There's this thought that keeps popping up in my head more frequently recently.

We are people who do heavy mind work. Our quality of life directly depends on our ability to come up with solutions. We've been training our minds for years, for decades, to get to the point where we are now.

Now stop for a moment. And imagine. You wake up one morning and you realize you can no longer code. You forgot all of it. You still can copy-paste answers from SO, but you don't know what questions to ask to get to those answers.... Your mind has pulled the DROP TABLE PROGRAMMING;COMMIT; stunt. From hero to zero in just 1 night.

You have no clue what happened, no idea whether you will recover. How does that affect your identity? Would you still try to climb the programmers' tree to the sweet spot you are in now? Would you choose some simpler profession instead, considering your age and time required to master that other profession? If you choose another profession - what would it be?
What would you do with your personal projects? You can't continue them yourself obviously... Would you let them die with the loss of your skills?

How closely is your profession related to your identity?

Now that I consider myself a person who's quite good in the field, this is becoming one of my fears. Sadly, it'll most likely come true someday. Either some accident or just old age, or even diseases/conditions at younger ages - there are so many things that could mess up your mind - the sole tool critical for our profession [to the picky ones: lumbers can't swing axes w/o hands, postman can't deliver mail w/o legs, politics can't lie without tongues, and we, engineers, cannot build with our minds even slightly off].

  • 4
    I really dont know but this career thing has gotten me in a loop if what if's a lot of times.

    I had always wanted to be an electrical engineer, i started as a hobbyist and I built smaller projects and as I worked up the ladder things got costlier to build that's when I started to lean towards web development. I could put my over imaginative mind to use with just notepad and a web browser, easy peasy... that's how I became an aspiring web developer.

    if tomorrow I cant code anymore. I'll just go back to where I started from

    arduino was actually the agent of crossover kind of. I discovered it's not only an arduino I could code on a PC I could build a simple html page and that's how it started.
  • 3
    I worked at a mega corp that was pretty stable an a lot of folks worked there for a long time. Suddenly it was bought and eventually most everyone laid off or sold for parts (first laid off of course ... ).

    Some folks took it really hard, their status at that company was a big part of who they were I think. Took them a while to really sort of put themselves back together. A couple haven't gotten it back together last I heard.
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    I suppose I'm blessed in that I'm rarely taken seriously. That's the kind of regard female engineers get here. I came up knowing I had a freshness seal that expired around 40, and took steps to hedge against it.

    If I totally lost all my professional skills, I'd probably try to make a go of it, eat a bullet if I fail.
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    I kind of had that about 8 years ago. Was a mid-level developer, doing quite well and then had a breakdown. Even forgot how to spell my own name. The stuff I’d been doing for years was still there by I couldn’t get to it and learning anything new was impossible.
    I started to get better, had kids and got worse. I ended up working in a bank just regurgitating the same code for a few years as I didn’t have the mental capacity for anything else.
    I got really bored though, also it was a shitty environment. I’m at a job now where I have to learn stuff every day. It’s been tough but I’m starting to enjoy it again.
    I guess that if you’re the type of person who likes learning then you’ll always be that type of person. Any easy job will just get tedious and boring after a couple of months.
    Might have done something more science based if I could afford to change careers though.
  • 0
    OP says it is "most likely to come true someday" (losing your mental abilities that is), meanwhile 94 year old becomes fastest growing member on Instagram :


    We don't know our futures, there is a large slice of luck in everyone's achievements, but just being in a non-physical, mentally challenging career already greatly increases the chances of keeping our mental capacities well into old age
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    ig i'd just learn html again, it's how i started...
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    I haven't been a dev all that long, but actually have a personal experience that fits this.

    2 years ago I woke up and couldn't think straight. I could write basic code still, but I couldn't form complex thoughts, and to degraded to the point I could spend all day copy pasting files over, forget why, undo it, re-reaalise why I had, start over.

    Eventually I found office lights difficult to be under, difficult to focus on a task, blurry eyes, difficult to focus on the road when crossing the street, essentially all my intelligence had disappeared.

    I believe it was due to stress, possibly a virus that attacks the brain, still no idea really.

    I slowly clawed my way back over 2 years and although I have some leftover mild symptoms, I'm pretty much better and now a tech lead dev.

    It was very difficult for me to suddenly lose the only thing I had going for me and I don't wish uncertainty of getting better on anyone.

    I didn't quit because what else would I do? I am a software developer.
  • 0
    oh and my programming folder would be like 80% useless....
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