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I'm Not Passionate About Coding

tsimpson profile image Travis Simpson ・6 min read

About Me

To start off, I want to briefly touch on who I am. I've been creepin' through DEV posts for some time now, made it more "official" by finally making an account (mostly for the sake of bookmarking posts I come across but don't have time to read right away), with a handful of comments starting to go out to posts that really sink in for myself. I'm a software developer that's never felt quite ready or good enough, but like the challenge and push on. My aspirations are less in coding itself and more in creation of things. Turns out, coding is creating things, just not particularly what I want to create, but that's a story for another post.

Passion

Passion is often talked about a lot in the development community. You will often see posts in the fashion of "You have to be passionate about coding if you want to do X or Y" or "If you don't show passion for coding, you can't get X or Y" or maybe the more burning "If we don't see your passion for coding, we just can't hire you." That's okay. That's probably not the company I want to work for anyway. Passion is always the burning topic and what seems to be the highlight and top deciding point for an interviewer with a candidate.

But...what is passion, and what particular type of passion is necessary to be deemed worthy of working as a software developer? Let's talk about that.

Passion, which has quite a handful of definitions, in this particular situation simply means

an intense desire or enthusiasm for something.

When I think of this definition of passion, there are a few things that cross my mind in particular(and in no set order):

  • Art, be it drawing, painting, writing, music, etc. The creation of things that bring people joy.
  • Helping others grow and succeed, and in that same matter, helping businesses grow and succeed.
  • Education. Learning as much as possible about any topic of interest, be it in technology, science, math, literature, music, health and more. Continued education and self-study.
  • Exploration. The excitement of exploring unknown areas, places you've never seen, mountains you've never climbed, oceans you've never swam. Or maybe..a career field you've never entered. Exploring things unknown to you, which I suppose could very well fall in line with Education.

These are the things I am passionate about. Each connected to each other, and in the same matter, connected to software development. Writing code is not my passion, but creating nice things people enjoy or can use to improve their lives or others, is. I try to keep up with new tech and the latest trends, but I always find that to be overly time-consuming and monotonous. It doesn't quite excite me. But what does is learning. Learning and exploring the unknown. Nice, new shiny toys aren't really the top of my list, especially in development. Being stable and using tools known to work, and work well at that, is more important. So I spend a lot of my time studying up on the more vanilla flavors of development, particularly with JavaScript. I want to know the ins and outs and the little intricacies that most just lightly brush over or sweep to the side and ignore because it's inconvenient to them or doesn't seem to serve a real purpose. And when I dive in, I really... really dive in. I obsess over the little things until I've broken them down to a point they can no longer be broken down.

Why

I guess the next question would be...why? It's an interesting question I toss around myself often. Why am I not passionate about development the way others are? Why do I feel unsuccessful or under-performing in comparison to my peers? Why continue to chase something I'm not directly passionate about?

I like the challenge. Before diving in to this world, I was always chasing to reach the highest I could at any one company. When I finally hit that plateau, and it was at least mostly obvious there was no other position to advance to, or they wouldn't allow me to for whatever reason, I moved on. My final straw was in moving from a simple delivery driver for a store to assistant manager within less than 6 months time. It was fun, exciting, and....not challenging. At all. I learned more about management, training others (which I had done for years in previous fields in mental health and special needs), operations and so on. It was a nice insight. But it wasn't challenging. Once I found the patterns, I was able to streamline daily processes, which cut down times and improved sales at that store, which was great. Unfortunately, it was also quite obvious they weren't going to let me move up to store manager or area manager or anything higher than what I was, no matter what I did. That's okay though. I got bored of having nothing new to learn, and no ladder to keep climbing, so I turned in my 2 weeks notice and dived in to software development.

But Travis, if you aren't passionate about it, why did you choose it?

Because of the new experience, the endless need for self-education, the large room for growth, and let's face it...this is what the world is slowly transforming in to. It also offers new insight on ways to better optimize businesses. It allowed me to optimize the performance of a small team on a Congressional Campaign, which cut down their working hours while increasing volunteer sign up and voter turn out during one of the most important election times in the US. It's allowed me to poke through and see the flaws and how they can be corrected at the company I currently work at as a mere "Tier 1 Tech Support Specialist." I've been in the process of rebuilding a handful of sites for this company while also rebuilding their messy knowledge-base, offering ideas on how to optimize and simplify the basic troubleshooting steps for most common issues with their Point-of-Sales system. I've been able to dive in to their (lack) of cyber security within their own company.

How far will it take me here in how fast of a time frame? I've made it clear to them I'm not staying here as a tech support. I hate talking on phones. I've been tech support my entire life for my family, friends, colleagues and co-workers. It's not challenging once you've learned the patterns. If we can't move in my time frame, that's okay. They aren't ready for it, so I will move on. In the mean time, I'm still actively seeking my first true software developer position. It's taking me some time, but I've come to accept that and in the mean time, keep improving myself for when the time comes the right company picks me.

The Future

So what does the future hold? Who knows. I know that I want to spend at least 3 or so years in software development. I know that there are a handful of various businesses I would like to launch of my own. It's fun helping improve other businesses, but it would be even more so to see my own "babies" grow. I know that I need to write more, particularly through my own coding processes for companies to easier see the way I think and plan and process and create. So this is my first step.

What About You?

What about you? What are you passionate about? Is it software development? If so, what in particular? Is it something else? If so, what is it? I fully believe there are more like me, that aren't particularly passionate about development, but are passionate about tech, education and so on that wouldn't let their code or their company suffer because of it. I think that's the part that irks me the most. "You aren't passionate about coding, so you probably write sloppy code or don't know how." Well, I am new to it, so yeah, I'm learning. I will learn to optimize my own code, make it more readable, write tests and so on as time goes by. But I also like to make time to pursue my own true passions, of which coding can very well benefit me, so it's quite important I learn how to write better code and keep up with new tech to some extent.

Discussion (15)

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georgecoldham profile image
George

Im in a similar boat, this is a career I am in because it is part of my passion for creating new thing etc. I'm not ashamed to admit that I chose this over other interests due to the potential to earn more money, but when it is an equal interest to other career options that typically pay less... well here I am.

I enjoy my job, the people, the lifestyle. But mostly I look forward to where it could lead me. I learn what I need to learn for the job, and make a point of staying ahead of the curve in relevant areas. I am proud of the work I do, and I work hard at it. I like to deliver the highest quality product I can. But it will only ever be one of many passions, and not THE passion.

I look longingly outside on nice days, and im not sure I will ever be the kind of person who could dedicate myself 100% to code in the same way others seem to. I go home, I want to go for a run/bike ride. I want to spend my weekend lazing about or going to see a local attraction or whatever.

I dont think my attitude is unhealthy either, I am a believer of maintaining a healthy work life balance, and by fostering my other interests, I am a healthier, more alert, more motivated employee. Crucially I am less likely to burn out like you hear so many horror stories about.

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babrown93 profile image
Bill

Great post.

I decided to post my comment here as a reply to your own, we are very similar in this respect.

I do my job to the best of my ability, I am always learning and experimenting. I make good money from doing it too.

The point that most resonated with me is about the "nice days". I too sit and gaze out of the window at the beaming sunshine, the birds, and I think is there something more I should be doing? Am I fully realizing my potential? But then I think, like you, this is the path I am on in order to reach my potential, whatever that may be.

Nice post, great comment.

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georgecoldham profile image
George • Edited

I feel that it is important to realise that a career choice shouldn't define you and how you spend your time. Would you expect a bricklayer to go home and practice laying bricks all weekend, or in the evenings? Of course not. That doesn't mean they don't want to or cant produce high quality work.

I feel like this industry is far too quick to judge a person based upon what they are NOT doing rather than what they are. Fortunately every employer I have had understands this, however I have heard horror stories from friends, colleagues and online.

It is okay and healthy to be human, with a myriad of ideas, interests and passions.

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tsimpson profile image
Travis Simpson Author

Thank you both for your insight. While I haven't gotten to work directly with a development team just yet, it is one goal to do so. Reading as many posts as I do about the subject, I see passion being tossed around every where. George, I like that you pointed out most other career paths do not follow this type of effort. It is the reality of it. It's important for people to recognize there is more to life than just work. I mean, nothing wrong with it if that's your jam! But to shame those that don't spend their entire day and night coding is not contributing to anything beneficial for the field or the people working in it. I have this little fear of being chained to one thing, and I fully realize that is a mental limitation I created myself. For me, it's highly important to have that room of freedom to be able to go outside and explore new places or try new things. IE: I've dabbled in blacksmithing, had a long bout of smoking the perfect ribs, learned to ride motorcycles and drive boats and so much more. I guess, new experiences in short. I also love working out, fitness, pushing my body to its limits (which I failed hard when just getting in to this field and became fat and lazy faster than it took to get in great shape!) This is a great field for the challenge, education, money and experience. That, overall, is why I chose to get in to it myself.

Thank you both again for sharing your view of it :)

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jhuebel profile image
Jason Huebel • Edited

I promised myself I would never use this word in this context... but that was a "savage" answer. Good on you, sir. I feel the same way. I lost my passion for tech a long time ago.

But I would argue that's a good thing. It's kind of like a marriage. Yes, you have an intense passion early on, but at some point that fades. In a successful marriage, you move from being a lover to a partner in life.

The same goes with many things in life. A healthy progression is that you are passionate about something early on and eventually move toward finding your groove in that field. You derive satisfaction not from intense bursts of immediate gratification but from the long-term benefits of maintaining and improving your knowledge and ability in that area of interest.

Sidenote: I've been married for 22 years. I'm still not an expert, but I'm working on it. ;-)

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Andrew Brown 🇨🇦 • Edited

For me, coding is one of many hats I wear to produce a result.
I would say I'm not passionate about coding.

The result of hard work and the impact it makes is what I seek to do.
Coding is one of my vehicles to achieve that result.

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tsimpson profile image
Travis Simpson Author

This times a thousand. I appreciate the clear and concise response Andrew.

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fdevinar profile image
Fabrício Devinar

Hi Travis, found your post while googling for this subject, so I'm replying a year later. I'm studying programming and will get a job in the area soon (hopefully next semester), coming from a corporate IT background (applications and security analyst for a big company). I realised the technical and creative aspects of problem solving are the ones that excite me the most, when I grabbed a cup of coffee and connected to a database looking for an issue (instead of contacting the support team that was responsible lol). When I had to solve a managing issue I did, but my drive was almost non-existent.

I also agree with the term 'passion' being used carelessly (particularly in job offers), we should use the same analogy we use for personal relationships. That is, a passion is a flame that comes and goes, you could be passionate about a lot of things in different times of your life. You don't need to be one-sided, you can enjoy several aspects of your life without becoming obsessed with any of them.

So if you enjoy art, education, technology and helping others, you could build a website showcasing a timeline for the greatest renaissance painters, or an aggregate news site about museum exhibits in Pennsylvania, or whatever comes to your mind. Or nothing at all, and be a competent developer nonetheless.

I see from your personal website that you're Batman too, and why wouldn't you be?

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tsimpson profile image
Travis Simpson Author

Sorry I'm just responding to this! Completely took a hiatus from...everything, for quite a while to be honest. But this was really great to see, so thank you for your input! Actually, really appreciate the ideas you brought up for websites. Hadn't really thought of that before.

I'm glad to see others relate, and agree with my thoughts on passion being thrown around so wildly. There are so many nuances to the tech industry in general that seem to..as oddly as it is..lag behind the times. Maybe we can all push to be the change we want to see some day.

Appreciate the shoutout to that little page too haha! It's long over-due for a makeover. Maybe I'll start there before moving on to these other ideas you gave.

Thanks for the insight, and hope you find luck in your programming studies!

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tsimpson profile image
Travis Simpson Author

This is a great insight and I appreciate you sharing this. It's nice to get other views and responses to this area. I like how professionally you worded it as well. It's respectful, but not to be pushed over or taken advantage of, something becoming more and more important as companies continue to push and want more for much less. Very well put sir. :)

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dwayne profile image
Dwayne Crooks • Edited

I like your honesty. And that's fine that you're not passionate about coding.

Interest is enough. You don't need to start with passion. Build skills in the areas that interest you and use those skills to advance yourself and your career.

You build skills through learning and doing. To ensure that you're consistent with your skill building you need to form the right habits, not be passionate about the skills.

If you want to learn more about this way of thinking then I highly recommend:

  1. So Good They Can’t Ignore You
  2. Atomic Habits
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tsimpson profile image
Travis Simpson Author

Thank you for this well thought out response Dwayne. I'm pretty happy to see So Good They Can't Ignore You on your list. That is partly what inspired this writing, apart from coming across a handful of "be passionate about coding" posts from various sources this morning haha! I will definitely add Atomic Habits to my reading list as well.

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Molly Nemerever • Edited

Great post, Travis. I appreciate your honesty and vulnerability - great discussion starter as well!

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Travis Simpson Author

Thank you Molly :)