What it's like to be a software developer

Published on by Mitja Felicijan

I get asked a lot what the hell I actually do. I find it funny but I guess it is my fault in most cases. I try not to be the kind of a man that is always talking about his work. I live in a small village and most of my neighbours probably have no idea what I actually do. And I am ok with that. I prefer this. But on some occasions I find it disturbing how people judge other people just because they don’t understand what they are all about. Many of them probably think I am some strange kind of a looser that is awake all the time and works from home. He probably plays games and type on a computer :) What kind of a job is that? That is no job at all! :) You work for eight hours, then you go home and drink a beer and go work in your workshop. This is what real men do!

Well, you know. It’s just the way it is. And it takes time for people to understand. Being home after many years in living elsewhere really grounded me in some cases. Coming back to the place where you grew up brings some sort of a humility back in your life. And this is ok. Nobody want’s to be Icarus anyways.

What I am meaning to say is if you are in a similar situation as me it will take time for people to start understanding you. Don’t get discouraged by this. Take it as it is. People judge what they don’t understand.

I have this saying that sleeping is for pussies and we will sleep when we die. I am 32 years old now and I haven’t slowed down regarding my work hours. I have steped up the pace. I usually work for about 16-18 hours a day every day. It doesn’t matter if it’s Monday or Saturday. Work needs to be done.

I know that there are other ways. But if you want to be good there really is no other way. There are no shortcuts. There is no easier way to get to the point where you really know what the hell you are doing. Myth about this genius programmer truly is one huge bullshit. Without putting in the hours nothing can be achieved. There is no success without dedication.

My friends and coworkers often ask me how the hell did I learn so much stuff. Where do I find the time to go through all this material. And I have a simple response for them: “When you go to sleep I begin reading and prototyping. When you go on a trip I make prototype projects just for the sake of learning. When you take your time for fucking around I read articles and books hunting that single small piece of information that will help me one day.” And often they don’t believe me. They think I am just that smart and everything is easy for me. They have this misguided belief that I just had all this knowledge implanted in me at birth. And this is not the case. I have read so much in my lifetime and most of this information was useful to me later in my life. But that didn’t stop me even though I had no immediate use of it. This probably is the main difference between me and my friends. I don’t learn because I need to but because I am piecing together this huge puzzle and I threat is like a game. This amazing game of enlightenment.

I had many burn-downs in my career. Most of them come around new years. I guess around this time things slow down a bit and right then when you relax for a minute or two things get real :). They say when you enter your retirment you should never ever park your ass on a couch. You will die there :) When my burndown happens I fall into this huge depression and I start questioning my sanity. I question my decisions. I question my progress in life. I question everything. I try to understand if all this is worth it?! And every time this happens I struggle with this kind of questions. And by the time all this is over I come to the same conclusion every single time. Yes it fucking is worth it. And through the years I have noticed that this is some sort of a reset for me. This helps me maintain my sanity in the long run :) I love it when things get tough. It gets me to the next level. This teaches me progress is life.

I don’t even count anymore how many programming languages I have learned. I even stop noticing projects. They just fly by. It’s like I am hunting this revelation that is set for me. And this drives me. This helps me every day to step up my game. Every single problem I solve I come little closer to my goal. My never reaching goal. And it’s ok with me if I never reach this goal.

The only problem I have now is time. There just ain’t enough time to learn everything day has to offer. It’s like I am on a quest to become this mini search machine :).

This obsession with learning has come to the point where I stopped watching TV and news all together. I find this as noise that clutters your mind. The whole point about news is to frighten you and put your mind into a dangerous loop where you thinks that nothing matters anyways → world is going to shit. And the truth is so far away from this. We are living in this times where all this amazing possibilities are at hand. We just need to take control of our mindset and everything starts to look possible again.

What else can say after more than 10 years in this space? What else can be said anyways? I still love what I do as much as I did 10 years ago. I love it even more. And if I would have a single suggestion for all of you is to stop worrying about immediate benefits and focus on the long run. Learn, prototype, experiment and have fun. We all get frustrated at times but that doesn’t mean we should stop. Doing this kind of work is a privilege. We are making and creating. In the most pure sense we are creators. And there really is no better way to live your life.

A life without challenge, a life without hardship, a life without purpose, seems pale and pointless. With challenge come perseverance and gumption. With hardship come resilience and resolve. With purpose come strength and understanding.

— Terry Fallis, The High Road