I will soon be made redundant from a job I’ve held for 6 years. Thats the longest I’ve ever been anywhere.
The last time I found myself without a job, I was terrified. How will I keep a roof over my family’s head? What if I couldn’t ever find another job? The fear of the unknown was enormous, mostly because the financial pressure felt crushing and imposter syndrome loomed large. No-one will hire me because I have no idea what I’m doing. Perhaps I should go talk to McDonalds.
This time round however, I find myself in the enviable position of having enough of a redundancy package to keep me afloat for 6-8 months. If I find a job right away, thats a nice lump sum that I could do something useful with, either personally or socially, but if not, 6 months should be plenty of time to find something. Anything. So thats the financial fear taken care of.
And so we come, as we inevitably do, to imposter syndrome. What am I worth? The last time I did anything other than iOS development was about 10 years ago. My Ruby/Rails skills are out of date, my Java is ancient history and my work consulting and training with XP/Agile process is almost certainly too old school. I have, in 10 years buried in Apple tools and technologies, failed to keep up with pretty much anything else. The changes in web technologies, in process, in buzzwords and frameworks seem all too massive.
When I did C++ for money, I did Java for fun. When I did Java for money, I did Ruby for fun. When I did Ruby for money I did iOS for fun, and then I kind of stopped. Family life meant there was little time for programming outside of work, so I stopped having an eye on the new things, and which of them might be interesting as a future direction. Back then, each transition seemed obvious. I knew what I was interested in before I had to look for a job doing it, and each time, because I was interested and made friends in that space, I didn’t have to look hard to find a place to do it for money.
This time though I find myself a little lost.
But wait, I know how to build good software.
I know how to build good software and I’ve done it in FORTRAN and C and C++ and Java and Ruby and Lotus Notes for goodness sake and C# and ObjectiveC and Swift.
I know how to build good software and I’ve done it with UML and XP and DDD and Scrum and using Jira and Pivotal Tracker and Rational Rose and index cards.
I know how to build good software and I’ve done it for banks and startups and research labs and electrical retailers and power stations and Coca Cola and telecoms.
I know how to build good software in anything.
So. The imposter syndrome is kicked into touch this time too.
I feel strong. I feel ready. I have no idea where I’m going or what I’m going to do next, but thats a blessing, not a curse.
It might, as I’ve said, be lovely to spend the next 6 months as a junior Mac developer or Project Manager or devops engineer and be the worst guy in the band. To focus on the small and the specific. It might also be lovely to finally take a step up into technical leadership across a small organisation. To think bigger and work harder out of my comfort zone.
Its a magical world, Hobbes ol’ buddy. Let’s go exploring.