Friday, January 23, 2015

The Secret Difficulty of Programming, According To Kitty Gifs

**I switch back and forth in this post between talking about my experience and talking about a collective "we". This is for ease of writing when I am making broader statements about programming. I do not contend that anything I propose is a universal experience.** 

Well, I have to say, this has been a bit of a discouraging week. I want my projects to progress faster and I want to be learning more faster and I want to be able to focus more. Feels like I'm scraping for every bit of progress (when working solo), and understanding is always juuuuuust out of reach, like for this cat:

Want to learn the things...can't reeeeeaaaach them...errnh...

Or maybe like this cat:

Is then when I am supposed to apply the Wilson Phillips principle? To hold on, for one more day? 

And so, of course, Debbie and her hyenas are coming out of hiding, much like this cat:

Less hyenas, more cats, plz.

And so, I've been using my coping strategies, relying on mentor support especially, like this cat:

Bad news: bad dream is real, kind of. Good news: Kitteh hugs!

After these mentor conversations, I think I'm starting to frame programming a little differently. We talk about Impostor Syndrome, we know it's a thing, and all the experienced developers I've talked with about it say everybody has it or has had it. But I think it's bigger than that. Here's what I think is actually true, maybe not universally, but at least broadly: 

Programming is so incredibly hard because of feelings, not because of programming.

Don't get me wrong - learning all the things is hard, but I think we're much more ready for that part. We know that we like figuring out hard puzzles and making cool things because we've figured out hard puzzles and made cool things. I think many of us are used to feeling/being very smart, so there's a confidence going in. I certainly have felt intellectually invincible most of my life, like understanding is prey, and I'm an apex predator, like this cat:

Sometimes you're the lion, sometimes you're the giraffe.

So, yes, the technical aspect is hard, but when you do this:

and then this:

and spend enough time doing this:
and this:

Well, that's the part that takes really smart and talented people and ties them up in knots. I think this is important to note for the times when I feel mystified about why I have so many feelings about it all the time. It isn't me, it's just how it is, and I should starting suiting up for work a little differently. Maybe more like this:

Never get involved in a land war in Asia. Unless you are a kitty in a tank. Then you're probably fine.

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