I am a failed developer, I have zero follower on Twitter

Let’s take a fictive mature language called “Unicorn”. Let’s say it’s getting very trendy in the industry, its community has grown past a 100.000 members. Like many mature communities around a technology, we have some famous people that have been around for years, a few people with a few thousands followers on Twitter, thousands of people wanting hardly to be famous and the rest who either don’t care (I’m just doing Unicorn in my spare time, I actually prefer Stallion), care a bit (hey it’s just a job) or are afraid to look dumb.

Generally speaking, most of the developers in this community think that the famous developers who get the most attention are smarter/more hireable/f***ing legends and they would totally want to work with them.

There is this general belief that developers should:

  • be active on Github
  • post articles and give talks
  • attend all the events, all the conferences and speak to all the people
  • be published by the community newsletter (Unicorn weekly)

If you think that’s correct, let me tell you something: the smartest developers I had the chance to work with in my career don’t even care about fame. They are very nice human beings with a lot of passion and a grain of talent. I am not saying that the developers with the highest Klout score are not smart, maybe they are. But the ones that are focusing on fame are wasting their time and energy. Your chances won’t get any bigger if you want to be popular, your ego will. And would you want to work with someone that has a big ego?
Share things if you want to, but don’t do it just for the sake of it.

You are not your mistakes

In the Unicorn community, there are also some developers who want to share things but they are afraid to look stupid. They are scared to screw things up, scared to be judged by the famous developers, scared of themselves if they don’t appear in the next Unicorn weekly and scared that their life might be over because the next big company will not hire them. I know that feeling, I have been in that exact same position. To that I would answer:

  • You might screw up and it’s ok, you’re gonna be ok. There are worse things in life than having an ignored Unicorn library.
  • If you screw up, the worse thing that could happen is the community ignoring it. Nobody will judge you on what you publish. In the very rare situation where someone judges your work, tell yourself you are not your work. You are not your mistakes. Maybe the comments are constructive and you might have a chance to learn. Maybe they are not, in which case the other developer is a jerk.
  • Your next job will not depend on these mistakes. And I hope your next potential employer doesn’t focus on your skills on social medias or your open-source work to hire you. Every developer fails at some point in their life, there’s still a small proportion of jobless developers on earth. So relax.

If you want to share a new library, a blog post or a tweet about your favourite technology, just do it.

https://twitter.com/chiuki/status/701913556778774528

Lose your ego, you are not important

In the Unicorn community, some people feel really important. It’s interesting how a bit of attention and a good salary can make someone feel like a football star. 
They brag a lot by saying they are not rock stars, ninjas, jedis as some recruiters like to call them in their job offers. But do they act like normal human beings?
I recently noticed a small thing that some developers like to share (God, who’s that guy?): https://twitter.com/_rpiel/status/473397070888706048

If you think about it for about a second, it’s not far from a football transfer news:

I have the pleasure to confirm I have committed to a legendary English club, with the massive challenge of remaining part of the Premier League (http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/35784544)

We don’t appear on the BBC, but why are we even sharing this kind of things in the first place?
Maybe if we behaved like normal human beings, we would be considered as such. Lose your ego, you are not important. You might have a broad reach in the Unicorn community but that doesn’t make you a more important person.

You are not the company you’re working for

Some Unicorn developers level other people’s skills by looking at the company they are working for. Gary follows that guy who works for — a fictive company called — Stables. Stables is the leader in Unicorn development so Gary thinks that guy must be so smart! Gary might be right but the truth is, he has no idea. You are not the company you’re working for, nor is Gary, nor is that Stables employee. I don’t have a long experience but I have worked from tiny startups to a huge corporation, I have learned a lot in all the jobs I had. You don’t get smarter instantly when you get hired by a famous company. In fact, you might grow more by working in a small environment. It depends on a lot of things and it mostly depend on what you are looking for. The same applies to everyone, so don’t judge anyone by their employer.

You are doing great

You are probably not a Unicorn developer (even if it sounds awesome, I wish I was one) but I hope you recognised a few things in the description of the social interactions in that community. Replace the words “Unicorn”, “100.000”, “Stallion”, “Unicorn weekly”, “Gary”, “Stables” by what applies best to your world.
You might be in a community around Android, iOS, Ruby on Rails, node.js, Scala, [pick-something-else]… If you think you suck compare to other developers, I have something to tell you: You don’t. You just happen to be in a group of people because you share the same passion. There is nothing glorious about what you do, there is nothing glorious about what they do. They are not better than you, they may not be happier than you.