Jesse, well written article and very brave of you to share what must be your most personal thoughts. A lot of what you raised here has rung true for me (not all of it though). Everyone is unique in their problems, struggles, progression or digression with mental health issues.
I was given a paper to read on “emotional avoidance” by my psychologist whom I see every week to try and stamp my depression and anxiety into the dirt. I avoided reading it, but I did raise some amazing pull requests during that week.
Alex Martelli of Python Software Foundation fame told a story recently that really hit me. He said that we are in Egyptian times, the only people who can write messages are the scribes. Professional scribes take their work seriously, they take pride in the way the hieroglyphics are an art-form to not just convey the message but do it in the best way possible.
The ages that are coming are the invention of the tablet for writing in roman times and eventually the invention of the papyrus where anyone educated can take messages. Eventually everyone in developed countries will be educated in this skill so anyone can send a message anywhere.
He was of course talking about programming, we’re at the stage where only professionals can achieve such a task but as we move into the next era, we will no longer be defined as scribes.
Why am I talking about this? Because I think this would terrify a lot of people and the sooner people start to really ask how they define themselves, come to terms with their qualities, strengths and amazing talents as they apply to problems, people, emotions and not just my leet skills with a debugger then this won’t be such a leap.
I’m making such a leap next month, changing jobs completely from an R&D engineering role to working in people and culture, all of my new team are women, none of them code, I won’t be coding. My job will be almost the flip reversal of what I’ve been doing up to now. But I can’t wait and yes it still terrifies me because I worry that I will lose my identity as “the guy that knows all the things about that library”.