September 16, 2017
You Can Be Courageous or Comfortable, You Can't Be Both
As most people are aware, imposter syndrome and other insecurities constantly plague many of us. Unless you have your head completely buried in the ground ignoring your surroundings, there is always that nagging voice of not being good enough or falling behind. For instance, while I have managed to successfully transition into the world of software development even though I’m completely self-taught, there is this never-ending feeling of inadequacy as I watch other developers do amazing things or see classically trained developers start picking up similar skills and me feeling like I have to play yet another game of catch-up to prove myself.
To be honest, that feeling of inadequacy and doubt is one that’s rather draining. Not only is there this self-imposed mental burden of trying to always one-up yourself or learn the latest and greatest, but then there’s the physical stress of becoming consumed with always trying to prove your worth. As a result, you end up in a perpetual state of unhappiness no matter what you achieve or gain because there’s always something left to do.
I recently decided to try out a spin class from a studio called Zengo Cycle. Now to be perfectly honest, I have tried a spin class years ago at a local gym; however, I had nothing but bad memories from it and was pretty sure I would never do it again. At the recommendation of a friend though, I figured, what the heck, maybe I’ll like this place. And during this class, which was challenging to simply survive through, the instructor said something that nearly stopped me dead in my tracks:
“You can be courageous or comfortable, you can’t be both.”
After hearing this, it gave me this new perspective on my own journey as a developer thus far. To be more specific, there are two aspects to consider:
Learning New Skills
Though I’m sad to admit this, I’ve been stuck in this perpetual cycle for quite some time. And in an odd way, while it seemed like I was trying to be courageous in learning new skills, I was ultimately stuck in my comfortable cycle of feeling like I was doing something with only producing marginal results in proportion to the time and effort spent.
Exposing My Work to the Eyes of Others
For those who don’t know this, I ran a go blog for a few years that got a lot more traffic than I could have ever expected. So while one would think that transitioning to be a coding blog would be smooth, it was nothing further from the truth. Every time I thought I would try and get my coding blog started, I’d be worried about things like:
- the blog design being subpar and being judged for having a crappy blog
- regurgitating content that already existed which I thought would render my blog post useless
- not producing content of high enough caliber which would result in me being judged by my peers
- having my career be hampered by an unpopular post because the internet can be unforgivingly vindictive even if the original content was not meant in any sort of malicious way
While the face value of the self-destructive mindset was clearly negative, I kept circling it time and time again because it was more comfortable to stay away from the judging eyes of others rather than step forth and take a chance on myself. What kind of moron would do that? Me apparently.
I always have considered myself a risk-taker, but this recent revelation has clearly shown the deficiencies in my own approach. Because while I may take risks from time to time, it’s clear to me now that simply rolling the dice is very different from taking a courageous step forward in to the unknown. The way I see it is that my old approach was no different than closing my eyes and hoping for the best. Instead, if I am to be courageous, I will instead leap into the unknown with my eyes wide open and believe in my ability to find my way through whatever the new realm has in store for me. See you on the other side.