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Remedies for the coding ailment

“A man doesn’t begin to attain wisdom until he recognizes he is no longer indispensable” - Richard E. Byrd

When I was first starting out as a professional software developer, code was all that mattered. I just wanted to perform, almost like a daredevil stunt performer. I wanted to be a hero in someone else’s story. I would often describe myself as,

Like any other a cocky wannabe software jockey, I wanted to write the leanest meanest code possible. I wanted to understand every little nitty gritty trick and shove them in production code. I would drool over elegant pieces of solutions. I wanted to be a “rockstar” software.

I would feel good about being called late at night because something went wrong, or someone has a demonstration the next day. I would feel proud that I had become an indispensable part of the company, and I would feel incredibly devalued if something I did wasn’t working as expected. There was a certain sense of insecurity lurking around me at all times, disguised as a hero-complex.

In contrast, these days, unless something is horribly and definitively broken, I don’t bat an eye. I probably never work after 7PM. I take breaks, go for walks, get a coffee from the corner store, make lunch, eat lunch, take my time and maybe even read book while I am eating lunch, all during a fine workday. I don’t feel bad if something isn’t working by the end of the day. I don’t feel bad if someone blames me for my mistakes. And guess what, most of my time, I don’t even write as much code like I used to.

Nowadays, my life as a software developer is very different than it was years ago. Writing actual code involves very little of my cognitive bandwidth. I mostly revolve around ensuring everyone in the team is on the same page, making sure the proposed solutions will have the desired effects, holdings meetings, discussing things, talking with other teams, answering questions, asking questions, sometimes repeatedly when I don’t understand something, and I barely ever feel embarrassed about it.

Before I give out the vibe of a wizened old vet, I must admit that I am still learning a lot much in my day job, every day. But I don’t feel bad if I don’t follow up on the latest JavaScript bundler, neither do I contract F.O.M.O. if I don’t understand the newest effect wrapping Scala monads. I don’t really feel bad that I don’t write Smalltalk or Haskell in my free time. I don’t feel bad if I can’t write that very complicated online coding challenge within 15 minutes. Heck even if I can’t solve it, I am still okay with it! I still enjoy writing software!

I have been thinking about it a lot after I hit 30, looking back at my professional evolution. Granted, it’s been long since I started working professionally, not nearly as long as my father, or his father; I observe certain changes that have happened to my professional psyche over the years, and I wanted to summarize some of my learnings below. Maybe you are like me from 8 years ago, maybe you are more like me from the future, maybe you’ll be find something affirming, or something useful in this list below. But mostly it’s a list for myself to revisit,

Orignially published on arijitdg.net.