A Wake-Up Call For Devoted Coders

If I have ever had a solid piece of advice to give to developers, this is it.

Le Intro

It wasn’t long ago that I was blazing through Free Code Camp at the rate of one algorithm per day. Now-a-days I work on full stack projects with a great group of friends and developers who all teach each other and have an amazing grasp of teamwork. I am a JavaScript bad ass and I know it. I do not run into JavaScript problems that I can not solve, nor JavaScript technologies that I can not conquer. I am pretty much everything I wanted to be when I began my study almost eight months ago.

But… At what cost?

We will get to that. A point I intend to make in this writing is that the skills I have now are not worth what they have cost me, and if you find yourself reading this and relating to me, do everything you can to change your workflow and your priorities before you have to realize how invaluable (i.e worthless) code is in the grand scheme of life, love, happiness, and success.

This is yet another Medium documented reflection of my code journey, but instead of asking for advice, I want you to open your ears and let me lead you down the right path, even if it doesn’t seem right.

The path to enlightenment begins with a story.

Who I Was

Who I am hates who I’ve been.

I was a developer, like you. I was a father, “husband”, and non-stop coder on his way to becoming employed, financially stable, and happy.

A few weeks ago I read a blog post by the JavaScript legend, David Walsh. The title was “Being a Dev Dad.”

The article made sense. It struck home. I knew I should have taken those words to heart, but instead I commented on the post with a kind of rebuttal.

I, too, am guilty of working way too much, while I know I need to be giving more attention to the wife, son, 2 year old daughter, and the rest of my family that wants to see me more often.
Unfortunately, I don’t feel that I have a choice. I am a studying developer, and have been since December 17th. (199 consecutive days as of today.) I am here at this desk for 36–48 hours, then I sleep for 4–8 hours, and repeat. I don’t go out to eat, watch tv, or play on Facebook.
I feel bound to this study because until I learn enough and gain employment, my wife and kids don’t get meals nor experiences or enjoyment out of life.
I feel that if I take a break then I am putting off their wants and needs, and regardless of whether it is what they want or need right now, I know that the result of my efforts will allow their desires and needs to be completely covered when this is all over.
I can only hope that time comes soon.

If only I would have closed my laptop right that instant and went to be with my wife and children instead of commenting to fight the idea of breaking my concentration, maybe I wouldn’t be here now feeling as though I need to dish out any advice.

Maybe my journey would have been elongated a few months. Maybe “we” would still be a word I could use, instead of “I.”

But then I wouldn’t have anything useful to share other than my code expertise. (i.e worthless)

Hang with me here. You’re about to learn something.

Who I Am

_____________________

I am nothing. I am nobody. I am a developer, which may mean I am worth money, but money, as well, is nothing.

Let’s Pity Party

My “wife” is no longer my wife. My children are no longer with me and will never know me as anything more than a weak relationship that is maintained every other weekend and the possibility of two hours on Wednesdays.

I can never be successful now, regardless of the dollar amount tied to job offers I may receive. My success was not governed by dollar signs, nor the beauty of the home I may have moved in to. My success was an idea.

The idea was to have home cooked meals, go out to eat once a week, travel and experience all the world has to offer, and attend sporting events, school plays, and more with my little troop.

Any dollar amount that an employer could offer will never buy that back for me, no matter how many digits they consist of, no matter how long lengthy this array could grow to be:

function makeSalaryArray(salary: String) {
let salaryArray = [];
if (salary.indexOf(',') >= 1) {
salaryArray = salary.split(',');
} else alert('I don't accept salaries without commas.');
return salaryArray;
}

It will forever be me, coding up a storm without my family. Without my girls. Just… me.

This was avoidable, and I’d like to tell you how easy it would be for you to avoid such a catastrophe. But first…

Not only your immediate family.

Your significant other and children are not all who matter. In my journey I have lost three family members. None of the three did I find myself especially close to (one more-so than the other two), but now I ask myself what could have been. I could have been there for them before their time was up.

My great grandmother passed two weeks ago. She was the sweetest lady… She would stay up all night playing on her iPad, posting her virtual slots winnings to her Facebook. Always smiles, positivity, and love. She was a joy to be around. Just wonderful.

Two months ago she tried to face-time me. I was busy with my daughter and code, so I did not answer. I told her I would answer later, but when she rang, I was busy. I slyly messaged her late that night and told her I owed her a rain check. But that check was never cashed.

The day she passed I had read the message I sent her previously and thought to myself “I should call Grandma Glory.” But I did not. Twelve hours later I was informed that I would never be able to call her again. So I bawled my eyes out as I carried on studying React and Redux.

“I should call Grandma Glory.” But I did not.

How ironic. The song I balwed to that night somehow made it’s way into my current playlist and decided to play three consecutive times. I am officially bankrupt of tears.

My great aunt also passed in February, and while I knew she was in the nursing home, I did not visit. And I made the selfish decision not to attend her funeral either. Please, shoot me now.

Learn from my mistakes.

Don’t Wreck Yerself

Check yoself, fool. Code is not important.

Welcome to the real code bootcamp. I am your instructor, Mr. Colcleasure. (pronoun: cole-clay-shure) In today’s lesson you will learn what matters most in your coding journey. When we are through here today, you’ll know exactly how to measure the value of your code skills, the value of your family, the value of your life, and how to preserve and practice proper progression on those you evaluate to be worth the most.

Here’s a shortcut I wish I would have known: Automatically discount the value of your coding skills by 75%. They aren’t shit, no matter how good you become.

Step One

Turn off your computer.

I mean it. Turn that shit off and go kiss your wife, husband, children, mother, father, everybody. Go tell them in the most sincere way how much you love them and that you never want to lose them. If they are asleep then you wake them up. If they are in the shower, turn off the hot water heater and wait for them to scurry out and lay that love on them.

Tell the girls they’re beautiful and that you’d be nothing without them. Tell the boy that you’re sorry you’re so hard on him, but you just love him and want to teach him right in this world of lost morals. Tell her that you’re sorry for any wrong doings, neglect, or insufficient affection. Tell her you love her more than life itself, regardless of how much of a bitch she can be. Don’t you let her go to sleep without a kiss on the head, a sincere “I love you” and a fresh bottle of water at her bedside. If you fail to do this, you may soon wish for nothing more than the opportunity to do so now.

Get in your car right now and make that two hour trip to see your grandparents. Surprise them, as it may be your last chance to put a smile on their face.

Visit the graves of those you failed to give enough of yourself to while they were alive and yell out to them how sorry you are. It doesn’t matter if they can hear you, you have to practice your love, and you have to try to get through to the people you love at all costs.

Even this post is not important. Turn your shit off and go do these things now. This post can wait. Life is short and the only thing that you’ll really take to your grave are the people buried next to you. Not those fucking tattoos or even a legacy.

I am condemned to be buried miles away from my girls. Don’t you dare read this and fail to take proper action.

Step Two

Repeat step one every day.

One loving act does not do it. That beautiful woman needs to know she is needed. She needs to know that even the most beautifully written code will never amount to her. She needs to know that you’re there and will be indefinitely. She needs to know that you can drop your practice at any moment to holder her and kiss her on the forehead. She needs you.

I think she was beautiful, even snoring up a storm in the floor.

Your children need to know that you are not just there to punish them.

Your elders need you now more than ever. Tomorrow they’ll need you even more. They can be a bit closed off, but they’re just a different generation of people, not one, though, that does not need to smile and feel love.

Your mother misses you. She may not understand that children grow up to have their own lives, but that does not make her wrong. She is never wrong. She just loves you and needs you to love her back.

Spread your love every day until you can do so no more because your mortality no longer permits.

Step Three

Repeat step two every day.

Love.


Conclusion

This is not a pity party. It is a warning.

By now I hope that you have already begun your redemption. You should now be able to assess everything and find out what is most valuable to you. I hope you see that without the ones you love, those job offers will be nothing but dollar bills you wish you could spend to attain enjoyment with them.

I hope you listened to my orders and turned your computer off, woke up those two beautiful little girls to tell them that you will always love them. I hope you told your grandmother how much you love her. I did.

I never apologized for that drunken night until now. I am ashamed.

Take heed, my code friends. This isn’t about me. It is about the person you could be if you don’t play your cards right. Nothing is guaranteed. The people you love may not be there tomorrow. Let them know how much you burn for them. Don’t let them go a moment thinking you don’t care.

You do care, so care like you care. If the thought of them not being there tomorrow scares you, make it known. And don’t be so oblivious to the fact that tomorrow your world could crumble.

I saw my girls today for the first time in two weeks. Her and I were friendly, it was a breath of fresh air, but with a hint of tear gas. I begged and won a last kiss, knowing there would never be another like it.

Don’t ever position yourself to have a conscious last kiss.


If this hit home, feel free to reach me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or here on Medium. Godspeed.