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The Hardest Thing is to Keep Going

carlymho profile image Carly Ho 🌈 ・3 min read

Or: to my younger self, with love.

Listen: things will be hard, and then they will be easy, and then they will get hard again, because you have earned the skills to imagine the ways in which you can be better. Even when you're learning you'll think: wasn't this easier to take in before? And maybe it was, or maybe you're learning harder and harder things.

Sometimes impostor syndrome comes from within—not in comparing to your co-workers and classmates and the Silicon Valley luminaries you followed on Twitter, but in comparing yourself to you as you were when you were ten years old and burning with the enthusiasm of someone discovering her new world and the way she could impose her will upon it, or even you as you just thought you'd be by now. We often have the least patience for ourselves.

Keep learning, and try not to lock yourself into the futures you can see yourself in now. You don't think you could ever be a manager, but those skills are things that will come to you easier with practice, too, just like code, and those skills are just as important. To be able to estimate, to have confidence in your implementation ideas, to be able to communicate—those are things that demonstrate mastery of craft, too. But it's okay not to force it before you're ready, too.

The tools you use may change and the people you work with may change, but what won’t change is that this work is something that calls to you and drives you to be your best self in a way that will, someday, make you feel like an expert. Someday you’ll be an expert. Someday you’ll feel confident saying “I don’t know, but I’m sure I can figure it out” and it’ll be true.

When you can’t see what lies ahead of you with any certainty or any knowledge of payoff, the hardest thing is to keep going. What I can tell you is that if you keep going, if you find friends and peers and mentors to support you (and you will) and take care of yourself (it helps, I promise), you’ll eventually find yourself in a place where you realize that you have everything that you need.

There will be days when everything feels like it’s fine and you’ll feel fulfilled by your work and still feel like you’d prefer to just lie down because (for better or for worse) you're not a formless energy cloud of programming knowledge and your body has just decided to rebel. Sometimes work will be great but some dude you’ve never even heard of somewhere across the country will unleash a waterfall of hot takes about whether people like you should be programmers and you’ll just feel so very tired. Give yourself a break, do what you need to get back on your feet. The needs of the mind and the body are needs you’re allowed to have. The productivity can come later. You have plenty of time yet.

You’ll never be done learning or improving, and you’ll never get a trophy that says you get to be done and that everything will be perfect smooth sailing from here on out. But like all hard things, carrying on gets easier with practice.

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carlymho profile

Carly Ho 🌈

@carlymho

never met a part of the stack I didn't like. sr. engineer at clique studios in chicago, perpetual creative hobbyist, bird friend, local gay agenda promoter. she/her. tips: https://ko-fi.com/carlymho

Discussion

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I love this. Amazing.

About things getting easier but we just can't imagine it ever will I read something like this which made everything clear (it was an advice for someone that thought would be single for ever but it applies everywhere)

Age 18: things were hard
Age 19: things were hard
Age 20: things were hard
Age 21: things were hard
Age 22: things were hard
Age 23: things were hard
Age 24: things were hard
Age 25: things were hard
Age 26: things were hard
Age 27: things were hard
Age 28: things were hard
Age 29: things were hard
Age 30: things were hard
Age 31: things were hard
Age 32: things were hard
Age 33: things were hard
Age 34: things were hard
Age 35: things were hard
Age 36: thing became a bit easier

If you read those lines without skipping, even reading to the end would be boring.

Now imagine if you are 30 and you have all those years where things were the same.

Believing that things could get from hard to easy to amazing is hard if the life so far doesn't indicate that it be so.

When I read something like that on quora I felt so at ease with myself. It so logical when you think about it, we are terrible at predicting the future, all we can do is give our all right now and let the future shape itself

I love your post

 

oh wow. I never considered this before and really appreciate you sharing it, aurel.

 

Everything about this is wonderful.

 

Someday you’ll feel confident saying “I don’t know, but I’m sure I can figure it out” and it’ll be true.

Thank you!