Getting comfortable being uncomfortable.

Learning how to be comfortable being uncomfortable is possibly one of the most important lessons that I have learned whilst on my journey as a newbie Web Developer.

As I’m writing this, I’m sitting on a train on my way to London. It’s the Legal Software Suppliers Association’s 21st birthday dinner or something like that. As members, the company I work for have been invited to the event. The dinner is being held at the restaurant at the top of London’s iconic BT Tower. That meant nothing to me either, but apparently it’s supposed to be quite a big deal!

BT Tower in London

If I’m honest, I’m absolutely dreading it. That might sound bizarre. Who wouldn’t enjoy a swanky free dinner at a restaurant thats not even open to the public! Me…go on, call me stupid.

I’ve spent the last 10 years as a plumber. Nothing could be any further from the black tie event that I’m on my way to! It makes me feel uncomfortable, it’s out of my comfort zone!

It may just be my personality, but I’m sure other people feel the same in certain situations and can relate. Sometimes, certain things just make you feel uncomfortable.

If it wasn’t for my wife, I would probably just have made my excuses and stayed at home. It’s only natural to avoid putting yourself in situations where you feel uncomfortable. It’s human nature. The problem is, as my wife pointed out, that by always doing this, you never get any further in life.

To improve your skills, make life changing connections and smash your goals, you have to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

Ever since I started learning web development, and especially since getting my first job, being uncomfortable has become a recurring theme.

As a new or aspiring web developer, it’s just something you have to get used to. However, once you embrace that horrible feeling of being out of your comfort zone, you will be astounded by the progress that you will make, both with your coding skill and also personally. It is unbelievable!

Maybe you have been learning to code for a while but still don’t feel confident enough to apply for junior developer jobs. You might not feel you are ready yet. You might fear rejection. Ultimately, a lack of self confidence will make you feel uncomfortable. And you’re not alone. We would all feel the same in that situation. However, it’s the people who suck it up, apply for every job they can, contact companies asking for work, and face potential rejection after rejection who will win.

Hell, you might not be ready yet and you might not land your dream job straight away. But, by putting yourself out there. By stepping out of your comfort zone, you win. You win! You get the interview practice, the experience and you get vital feedback on where you need to improve.

At the end of the day, would you rather be someone who has been learning to code for 18 months, but hasn’t even started applying for jobs, because you don’t feel comfortable or ready yet?

Or would you rather be the person who’s been learning to code for 6 months, and starts applying for jobs. You might feel uncomfortable and maybe it takes you another 6 months to land a job, but 12 months after first opening a text editor and you are working in your dream career? Believe me, this can happen. You just need to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

That uncomfortable feeling doesn’t stop once you get your first job.

I got hired as a junior PHP developer, but the main product at the company I work at, is a SaaS app with a React UI.

I must have spent the first 6 months at my job convincing myself that I didn’t need to be very good at Javascript because I “don’t do front-end”. How naive was I! How ridiculous!

I’m a fairly confident Junior PHP developer, but I passed on several opportunities to work on our UI just so I didn’t have to put myself in that uncomfortable situation where you don’t really know what your doing and you end up having to reach for the documentation every 30 seconds. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to learn React or improve my Javascript skills. It was just because I was more ‘comfortable’ working on our backend! But, thats what web development is. You will never know everything and will always be faced with situations where you are made to feel uncomfortable doing something you haven’t done before. That’s the price of progression. That’s what you need to get used to as a Junior.

Actually, once I got comfortable being uncomfortable, I realised that I actually enjoy React. Who would have thought it ey!

I have learned a valuable new skill, improved my employability, increased the value of my skill set and maybe now I can go as far as to call myself a ‘full stack developer’!…Ok, that might be pushing it!

This may all sound easy, but I still have to remind myself to take my own advice!

Nearly a year into working, as a Web Developer, and I still feel uncomfortable at times, but I am getting better and better at feeling comfortable being uncomfortable!

Meet-ups have always interested me since starting my Web Development journey. I’ve read great things, and really do think that spending time around like minded individuals can help accelerate your learning and progression. Unfortunately though, I’m just not a social butterfly. I like to keep myself to myself and spending time on my own really isn’t a problem!

I get self conscious, worried about having less knowledge than other developers, and just the whole imposter syndrome in general kicks in. Sometimes its hard for me to try and explain to people why I gave up a solid, well-payed career like plumbing to learn something totally new at nearly 30. Those of you who have done it, are doing it or have just thought about it will know though! And when you know you know!

Anyway, to cut a long story short. I still haven’t been to a conference or Meet-up. But, in the next few months I am going to take the plunge and book tickets to this year’s Symfony Live London, PHP North West Conference and hopefully get to a local meet-up. It’s time for me to take my own advice and make another step forward in my career as a Web Developer.

Life WILL make you feel uncomfortable, but don’t ever let it stop you. You have to remember, it’s a good thing to feel uncomfortable. When you feel uncomfortable, it means you’re moving forward and exploring new territory. Get comfortable being uncomfortable and find out how far this journey can take you!


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