Last year about the same time as now, I decided to quit my job to become a developper.
I worked for 3 years in an amazing NGO, met many people and did awesome stuff, but I wanted change. Needed it even. I was looking for big challenges, learning new skills and finally getting to learn to program as I was putting that aside for way to long to be confortable with.
I was also approaching a early-career crisis that could be summarized as: where do I see myself in 10 years? I wasn’t seeing myself doing what I was doing. So I changed. I was young, no responsabilities and had some money saved.
I enrolled in a bootcamp. The bootcamp was start-up-ish, it was something I was looking for as I know nothing about businesses or start-ups. It isn’t exactly what I prefer as a culture in tech, but it was a very enriching experience. It is always good to see both sides of a problem.
After the bootcamp, I became a freelancer as I didn’t want to work for anyone but myself, nor answering to anybody. I wanted to be able to work on open-source projects and do other things (like sports), have some personal life and go to the movies in the morning. I had all those ideas, all this time and all these things I wanted learn about.
It didn’t took long before I dove into long working hours, night coding sessions, multiple side projects. Long story short, I was coding. A lot. But no sports, no personal life, no movies in the morning. I was getting shit done and nothing could stop me (or so I thought).
I love the feeling you get when you live on the edge of your own limits, when you feel that each day you accomplish more than the day before while managing to eat healthy, care about your family and friends. It is thrilling, the sense of accomplishement and control over your own life is unique.
I was working as a freelancer, developping a new platform for an open-source project, giving coding classes to adults and sometimes kids, I was trying to teach myself infosec.
I got the chance to do another crowdfunding campaign (I did few of them during my previous job) and it was just the best. The feeling of launching it, seeing your message being shared over the Internet, trying new ideas, new messages, new strategies. It’s great. I was riding wildly, it was like riding a convertible. The wind in your hair, the speed, the adrenaline.
This looks like a highway to a quick and dirty burn-out, and it wasn’t the first time I came close to burning my brains out. This one isn’t an exception. Close but not it yet. I’m too stubborn to quit.
Crazy little thing called code
But coding requires totally different skills. I used to be a campaign manager, speed and adrenaline were like drugs: you could always go harder, better, faster and stronger. There was always something to organise, proof-read, launch, someone to call, an article to write or to read, emails to answer to. You can get these done and some more over 12 hours work-day.
With code, you cannot. You. Just. Can. Not.
I learnt it the hard way, when after the n-th project offer I ended up with no more slots in my agenda, telling myself: “it’s okay I can code something on Sunday evening or this morning”. Big mistake. The consequences where quick and implacable. My code quality was not only decreasing but the average coding ratio compared to my “other things” was worsening.
To code you need time and creativity and you only get those through a balanced life style and especially you can only code for a long time (like months or years) if you keep pacing yourself. Hackathons are shit because they do the opposite and so is the whole culture of “I’m a code machine”.
People are not resources you drain, they are plants to care about.
Hit the road Jack
So here I am. Coming out of a not productive phase where my mind was entirely bland and it was hard for me to get anything proper done. I hate being like this and I took this time to reflect on myself and what I have accomplished over the last year. Many things I am proud of, other less. And even I am still far from my personal goals, the path I have already walked is, at least to me, impressive. This is something worth celebrating.
This is what matters, where you were last time you checked and where you are now. Are you on the right path? Did you regret something? Do you want to change something? There is nothing wrong in feeling sad and energy-less, this is a time you can take for yourself and build on it. Like plants or animals, we all need some real time off to reflect on ourselves and our decisions or just to slack off.
See you on the road!