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Sara McCombs (they/them)
Sara McCombs (they/them)

Posted on • Originally published at Medium on

Stop “Aspiring” and “Be” Who You Are Already

Photo by Alec baker on Unsplash

For the longest time, I was content to refer to myself as an “aspiring” developer. I felt it was accurate and descriptive. It suited my mannerisms and honest nature. Didn’t matter I was already freelancing here and there. I was quite content and felt claiming to be a “real” developer was false advertising.

Then I was fortunate to join the Moms Can Code School. Not only did I refresh some long unused skills, rekindle my passion and direction in life, I was also paired with an AMAZING mentor who challenged me.

Adrian and I met weekly for 45 minutes to an hour with many emails in between. I recorded our sessions because I could never take notes fast enough. I was afraid to miss some invaluable piece of advice or information. He always challenged me to see things from another angle and to really understand what I wanted to pursue in life.

Then one day he asked, “When does an aspiring developer transition to just a developer? What’s the criteria for that transition to occur.” I was dumb-founded. I had no response. I had thought long and hard about that title and felt good about it. Now, when asked about transitions beyond it, I had nothing to say. He told me to think about it and come up with an answer. It was important.

And I thought about it. A lot. It was like a brick in my stomach. A heavy uncomfortable weight. It was like suddenly noticing a dent in your car door and never noticing anything other than that every time you got in. The more I chased an answer, the tougher it became.

But one morning, freshly awakened from my restless and difficult sleep as a new mom. It hit me. The long sought after answer to my question. It was the same answer as the question “When does a person become a mom?” and it was far simpler than my mind had envisioned.

You are, the moment you set out to do it. That’s the answer. When you have a child you are a mom. It is binary. You are not a mother and then you are.

When I was pregnant, no one called me an “aspiring mom.” I wasn’t a mom yet. I had no children. But the moment I had my beautiful daughter I became one. A full-fledged mother with no one questioning my desires or abilities.

Being a developer is the same. The adjective “aspiring” is a given. We inherently recognize the path of a developer (and a mom) as a never-ending education. Just as moms are constantly educating themselves — how to feed, how to teach, how to handle potty training, and reaching out to friends and family on specific situations — so are developers. Just as a developer is always aspiring to learn more and be better, so too is a mom.

This moment of clarity was freeing. Not only did it lift the existential question from my shoulders but it also drastically minimized the imposter syndrome I felt.

My experience as a mother is only as long as my daughter is old. However, I have zero doubts about my skills and abilities to do the job. I know my resources well. I have an amazing community and I’m willing to learn as I go. Why should I have any less confidence in my skills as a developer when the skill sets are the same?

This is something for all of us to think about and to have confidence in. So, let’s stop “aspiring” and just be the developers we already are.

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