A medium sized read about large sized loneliness
Thomas Lawton ⚓ Aug 9
A quick review of how difficult being without a community can be
Pre-read note: TL;DR at the bottom but the rest of this helps give context.
Over the past two years I've been hard at work learning web development. Due to some decisions I've made and some hesitations I've had, up until the past few months I've done this mostly on my own.
As I slowly ease myself into having more people around me, developers in particular, I want to share my experience to hopefully help anyone who finds themselves in the same position.
For some background:
I started schooling at a Montessori school, moved to public school, entered a "Community Learning Program", and then attended a smaller college.
Each of the two schools that involved community (Montessori and "CLP") were where I did the best.
After school my personal interests and career desires led me to being interested in software and web development and I chose to attend a bootcamp.
Why is this all important?
I did something a bit silly. I chose to attend a bootcamp remotely.
Heads up -- that's not silly for everyone!
It was silly for me. Remember all the community stuff I just told you about?
Now, why am I sitting here explaining this all to you? What even happened with that bootcamp?
Well, throughout the bootcamp I had a mentor who was great. I'd worked remotely before so that was no issue as far as meetings and working went.
I felt alone all the time and, unfortunately, I didn't really get into meetups because I've learned that I'm a bit shy, particularly when it comes to situations where I feel inadequate (a meetup for software developers where I feel like the only new guy is a great example).
Because I wasn't around other new developers I didn't get to experience a lot of learning that comes with troubleshooting together. I also didn't get introduced to a lot of things that I now find useful like Twitter and Dev.to.
I've been out of the bootcamp for two years and I've had a difficult time. I got stuck in a real rut for several months and then had to take a job doing what I know how to do best.
I climbed up out of that rut for a while, did what I had to do, and then I fell back in. I had a choice to make. Do I hang out down here or do I stand up and do what I know I can?
Well, I've finally been standing. I realized that I may not be super experienced but that's ok, there are a lot of us that aren't and we can work together.
I started looking for work and, as luck would have it, someone was willing to take me on for some project-based contracting work (it's remote please laugh!).
When that happened I felt good but I knew there was more to do. I needed to be part of the development community! I realized I was missing out on so much because I wasn't on Twitter, I wasn't on a community site like Dev.to, I wasn't going to meetups.
I went to a meetup and they invited me to the Slack. I was pretty spooked when I got there and felt pretty awkward in Slack. So what did I do this time? I just said "Hey I'm new what now?".
Everyone was nice!
I jumped on here and started following people and started reading about how other people feel the same as I do. And guess what? Everyone is nice! (Still working on getting myself acquainted here).
Over the past few months I've felt better than I have since I was deciding on the bootcamp.
Last words, suggestions, the moral // TL;DR
The moral of my longer than expected chat here is that if you're feeling alone, you're the best person to change that. I hope this story inspires you to do that!
Here are some of my personal suggestions:
- Do something that scares you like go to a meetup where you don't know anyone and talk to just one person
- Get that person's contact info and stay in touch with them
- Do it again next week with a new person AND the same person
- Listen to two podcasts a week at least, there are a ton of great beginner podcasts but one of the two should be about what you're most interested in or really love
- I listen to a bunch but lately I'm listening to:
- Linux Unplugged
- Giant Robots
- Code Newbie
- I listen to a bunch but lately I'm listening to:
- Find a group of people on Twitter, on here, on a Slack channel, on Discord, or somewhere else that you can keep in touch with daily. This one makes me feel really good!
- If you read this and you've felt the same way or you just want to say hi, send me a message or leave a comment! I'm still working on this too!
Last words - if you're down here thank you, this was a bit of an emotional blah for me. I've been thinking a ton about this and it's important to write it all down.
If you're feeling lonely you don't have to, we're all out here waiting to help one way or another!
when should you quit your current job to pursue your goals. I see postings all the time of how people quit their job saved up money for x time and begin working toward there goal of getting a better career. I want to talk about the other half of this for a minute of is this really a smart move?