These days the tech world moves at a blinding pace. It feels like almost every day you hear about a new type of database or language that "everyone" is using. The pressure to try and keep up with it all can be overwhelming. I was inspired to write this post because of a tweet from @emmawedekind that really struck a chord with me(and apparently many others if you read all the replies!).
That feeling like you can never keep up is all too real for me. Often when others start throwing around new tech stacks in conversation, I have to secretly Google every name they mention while I nod along, because I have no idea what they are talking about. This is when the Imposter Syndrome starts to creep in and I feel guilty. I think that I am somehow less of a developer because I don't know about all of these new technologies.
Part of the frustration for me is that the coworkers who talk about these new technologies all the time are the ones that are hacking away on this stuff in their free time. I, unfortunately, don't have the time to do that. I have a second passion besides coding and that is riding horses.
And I don't mean once a week, I ride 4-5 days a week and have 5-6 horses I have to get ridden. Much of my free time outside of work is spent riding. I wouldn't trade my time in the saddle for anything. It helps me recharge and brings me a lot of joy. But there are still times when I wonder if I should be doing more tech focused things during my time off.
I know deep down the answer is a resounding "NO!" but it takes effort to reassure myself that it is the right decision. Seeing Emma's tweet and reading through the responses was super comforting. I finally felt like I wasn't the only one that was struggling with this. Here are a couple of replies that I also think are spot on in describing this struggle.
Along with reading all of the replies, I also got a DM via Twitter from a fellow Site Reliability Engineer. He had read my ABC's of Engineering article about confidence and wanted advice on how to find his niche.
It feels like to me the needed mastery as an SRE changes from week to week and that honestly just makes me anxious and almost ADD as I spend time coming up to speed on new tech all the time which I know from experience as well as from others that, that is unsustainable and leads to burnout.
🙌 Hallelujah, someone else who feels the same way I do! The advice I gave him was:
try to fight the urge to grab the newest thing, find something that is working for you and stick with it. Go deep into all of the things it can do. Will you maybe miss some flashy new things that fly by while you are mastering it, yeah, but I think it will be worth it.
I have to keep rereading this advice and reminding myself that it is IMPOSSIBLE to learn everything. Putting pressure on ourselves to think we need to keep up is not the answer. We need to be OK with letting some things pass us by. As long as we have the technologies we need to do our jobs well, we are set.