Leaving My Comfort Zone

Leaving My Comfort Zone
Photo by Safar Safarov / Unsplash

In the daytime I work as a software and web developer. Since the pandemic ravaged the world, for the most part that means sitting alone at home in front of a computer trying to make sense of requirements documents, and constructing solutions for staff I will never meet.

While I may not be able to speak multiple languages – a feat I’m always captivated by when others perform it – I can write software in multiple languages. Multiple machine languages come with the territory, because the development of computers doesn’t stand still. Just as real-world languages evolve, so do the means by which we instruct computers to get the job done.

Which leads me to the departure from my comfort zone. It’s happening right now.

For the last several years I’ve been in a comfortable little bubble – partially of my own making – using the same technology stack to build solution after solution. Well that has all come crashing down in recent months – with opportunities in the marketplace pivoting towards something different. It’s a little like turning up to a school to teach French as you have for the last decade, only to discover one morning the label on the door has been replaced with “German for beginners”.

The problem with computer languages isn’t so much the language itself – it’s what you’re doing with it. It’s never as simple as learning the wording, and the sentence structure. Invariably you need to also learn how it has been used for an entire library of pre-existing stuff. Perhaps an analogy might help. Instead of just learning about the fuel, springs, and the nuts and bolts your car is made from, you have to learn about suspension geometry, the theoretical workings of the combustion engine, the GPS system, the locking system, and so on.

For most software development projects you find yourself standing upon the shoulders of countless generations of giants that came before you – and that can make the learning curve incredibly steep.

I’m on that steep slope at the moment. Thankfully the hard climbing is already done, and the gradient is beginning to level off. Of course the problem now is looking back down, and realising how high you are – and how far you might fall if you make a mistake.

So yes. I’m out of my comfort zone at the moment. I have to remind myself that I’m surrounded by wonderful co-workers, and that the internet is but a few keystrokes away – where an army of fellow developers often share their knowledge and enthusiasm.

Fingers crossed for the months ahead.

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