force unwrapping my optionals

Photo by Marek Piwnicki / Unsplash

So 11 years ago I moved from being a telecommunications engineer, doing some software development as an extra skill, to purely developing code full-time. It was then, 11 years ago, where I took a step back from working with propagation, planning and so many years of studying and working with physics to put on the Beginners-mind hat and land a new job where I had virtually no experience and faced the learning process with a smile - alongside a bit of office toxicity and impostor syndrom-a-palooza.

Around this time, 11 years ago, I found myself sitting for my first day next to a person that was having his first day as well. Far was I to grasp the extent of influence that this person would have in my future professional (and in some terms personal) life. I guess he wouldn't know as well at the moment nor he actually knows up to today. There I was, the physics telco guy with 0 years of software engineering experience next to a 37 year old seasoned developer/sysadmin/enthusiast/guru guy, switching from a more than a decade role, that was fulfilling his passion of finding a place to work... as an iOS developer for the first time.

Now that I'm around that age that is striking.

In that period I've overcame, humbly, a huge amount of  daily impostor syndrome, some colleagues also struggling with theirs and others rocking it - in general everyone helped overcome it to a certain contained extent showcasing that in most of the situations misery loves in fact company. Either from being from a complete different field of work and studies, to a small team where all were very knowledgeable technically or at least experienced on that specific technological environment. Some of them had in fact great technical expertise and working with them had a great impact on my learning process and it was humbling to a very broad sense. Others that had not that much expertise but still had a lot of context also brought some pragmatism to the process and partially to understand that also more experienced people struggle with insecurities and motivation even if they tried to hide it in a very silly and unneeded "elitist" general feeling in some topics. All combined still led to a successful experience. I went from fixing bugs on the iOS app because they had nothing better to give me, to develop the new Android app, to backend development in C then to whatever was needed with a quite broad skillset to work on any task across the whole structure - I could be not as the experts I had as colleagues, that I admire, but I could now move and connect any dots within a very complex structure and codebase with competence and even more outside their comfort zone.

Without getting fully rid of the impostor syndrome that loomed over me I became solid and that was very rewarding.

Lucky was I to understand that that "new joiner" was in fact probably the most technically capable, knowledgeable, humble, patient person I've worked with and probably the best teacher I had in how to approach computer science. Besides introducing me to Ruby, and doing it "properly", to what I dedicated much of my professional life afterwards, he also shared with me the joy and excitement of engaging with a community, go to conferences with a positive atitude, identifying the right books, reading the books (!), who to follow and how to get excited with what we do, while pursuing the proper way to do it. I guess it was the way he approached it himself, and I guess he was (and hope he still is) with the positive "high" of finally moving to iOS and doing what he thought was the best for him.

I took a lot of this, and funnily enough, in Runtime Revolution and on the last 6 years of UBS I had the privilege to be asked to coach a lot of junior developers. Sometimes would I find myself mimicking what he did for me, almost using the same expressions, having the same frustrations,  but not consciously. It simply was the way I was brought into this state of loving a technology community and when I was able to spark the interest of young trainees or colleagues into going to a conference, following a set of people on twitter that worked on the same topics, reading a book, ... I felt I was keeping the spark alive and the legacy was somehow continuing - of being part of an historical community of techno-enthusiasts that love putting code into machines. Properly and with joy.

Then life came in and hit hard. I became a father, sleepless and stressed, with no help and long story short we moved countries again, maybe to an illusion of change or maybe to actually try to change something for the best - and we did. I planned to do a break from work to deal with all the stressful situation of moving to a new place, now with a toddler, get a new place and even had time to buy and help assemble a restaurant. This break didn't happened since I was somehow feeling I had to get a job in case things "went south" (pun unintended), and so I was lucky enough to find one new job with no free time in between all the balagan of moving countries and moving my life (+ opening a restaurant). Even with some already familiar faces that I am actually grateful for the opportunity and am fond of. Maybe with a pinch of bad luck I landed in a very unwanted scenario to which I won't describe in fear of some NDA-hazy-context, but in a nutshell it has become overwhelming: bad processes, political shenanigans, stressful and unfair plans, long hours, very long hours, exhausting extra miles and, even though I'm used to it to a certain extent, the toll this has taken on my passion for technology has started to weight to a point of rupture.

It became hard to muster any enthusiasm, as the exhaustion leaves me little room for any sense of fulfilment. My motivation has dwindled, and my once positive outlook has been replaced with growing cynicism and negativity. But most importantly the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that used to accompany my efforts have diminished, leaving me feeling empty and unfulfilled. So I feel the sparkle is fading away, for the wrong reasons.

Sometimes I wonder, was this what my dear colleague was feeling when he thought it was enough from years of experience on is job and simply move along for himself to become the iOS developer he wished for?

But now here I sit, almost the same age as he was, trying to figure out if I should simply put the beginner's hat that I so appreciate, and somehow pursue what I would like to do. And maybe even ending up, again, following up his advise or silent suggestion based on what he did at that day: to simply pursue a thing that keeps my love for technology alive and rekindles my long lasting love for running code thru machines.

Laurentius of the Great Swamp helping us keeping the flame - Dark Souls
josé tapadas alves

josé tapadas alves

🪐 Recovering Telecommunications engineer and software tinkerer. Passionate Rubyist and JavaScript zealot. Nature, music and life enthusiast 🌱