Fear-Based Learning
2017-07-26

I feel like I keep learning new things about myself, and I suppose that’s a good thing.

One way I try to validate these ideas that I learn is to put them out there for people to read.

There’s this feeling I get before I need to invest effort in something new, and it’s fear.

I’m afraid that I need to learn something new.

For new developers, there’s a huge hump that needs to be overcome when learning their first language.

Not only do they need to learn syntax and basic algorithmic problem solving, there’s a whole slew of concepts that need to be ingrained, learned and understood.

I remember it being a serious slog, and looking back, I can’t help but be proud of how far I’ve come in a relatively short amount of time.

That said, I still (regularly) feel out of my depth when faced with something completely foreign that I don’t have a mental model for just yet.

Part of the success I’ve seen is realizing the edges of my knowledge, understanding that despite how much I’ve learned, there’s always going to be a huge, vast ocean of information just waiting to be consumed.

I recently got promoted. (Yay me! 🎉)

Within a day, I felt extremely overwhelmed, just as I was feeling comfortable in my position of 6 months!

I felt as though I had just reached a point where I knew what was flying, I felt like I had hit a point where I could be productive and focus on ancillary stuff in my life, (finally!), and I felt good.

Then it just got turned upside down, and now I’m busy evaluating technologies, prioritizing roadmap features, trying to motivate team members, and just accepting more responsibility for the decisions I make!

No more “do this thing, this way, as I prescribe it” instructions, no more hand-holding (or at least that’s what it feels like)

I hope you now understand after reading the past paragraph that I’m freaking out slightly.

Here’s the point of the post, though.

I was discussing this with a coworker/mentor, and he said something along the lines of:

“You’ve done this before, you learned how to program. This is part of the cycle, you’ve just never reached the other end of it. Congrats! It never really gets easier.”

On it’s face, that’s a scary statement, but it’s also a hugely powerful one.

It’s a statement that shows the power of progress, how throwing yourself headlong into new, scary technologies means doing your best.

How doing your best to understand the landscape you’re currently working in is the most exciting, rewarding way to move forward.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some DynamoDB white papers to read.