Since then, he has made our lives a bit easier with the create-react-app boilerplate gets you up and running with React with no configuration. It’s a truly fantastic tool that gets better with time. But as for his overall mission to remove barriers, three years later there is still a tremendous amount of work to do.
When folks traditionally think of people in successful positions, they often consider traditional “successful” employment models/titles — doctor, lawyer, engineer, to name just a few. I always assumed that to be successful you had to have some sort of strategy laid out for your life, starting in middle school, and you hit these milestones along the way that move you closer and closer to that success column. And because I never had any of that, I always thought (and still fear, if I’m honest) that success, whatever that means, is a lost cause at this point in my life.
I know now this is far from true, because I’ve watched all of the same viral inspirational videos, read the same success narratives, and dealt with career coaches who have pointed me to the same counter-examples of this trope that you probably have. But acceptance still feels unnatural, and at times this can be a mental barrier. Where I am now is not the result of any sort of plan, and where I’m going from here is far from certain.
Today slipped away from me, it seems, and I almost went to bed before writing. Day 4 and I’m feeling it. Not surprising, really. As with anything else, when you are trying to make a lifestyle change and form a new habit, the first week is always the toughest to get through.
What I learned from writing my last post is that I don’t know all of the right answers. That’s a tough place to be for a human. We like having all the right answers and simple scapegoats to point to when things aren’t the way they should be.
That being said, I do know a few things that might help. I’m not breaking any new ground here, but if I can be a megaphone for a few new ears then perhaps this will have been an effective exercise.
I have wanted to write about diversity in the tech space for quite some time. A few things have stopped me, I suppose. The first block that comes to mind is the fact that I am not personally representative of the concept. No one needs to tell me that we don’t need another white straight man who writes code and attends conferences, yet here I am.
When I’m grocery shopping, I often find myself looking at shelves of various name-brand products priced significantly higher than their generic counterparts wondering why anyone would spend more for what is essentially the same product. Of course there are plenty of good psychological explanations for this that aren’t that difficult to understand, but this got me thinking about the things that I spend money on regularly that I know I can get cheaper elsewhere.
This morning as I was lurking on Reddit — something I have done for years without contributing very much — I was struck by a post in r/financialindependence. The user, a mechanical engineer, hated his job and wanted to quit to seek out a new gig as a programmer. He had enough savings to get by in the mean time, but he was afraid that quitting and spending a year unemployed while learning new skills would prevent him from his goal of financial independence.
This idea isn’t unique to programming, of course. Learning new skills is time consuming and often requires some sort of investment. The binary set of choices in the user’s mind is also not unique to this user. So many people seem to believe that you have to give up your paycheck to pursue a career change.