Graham's Blog

Reflecting On My First Year as a Developer

Aug 7th, 2023

Next week will mark the end of my first year (of hopefully many more) working as a software developer. This fact blows my mind, and feels wholly unreal. It’s still difficult for me to believe that I made it this far. I still remember thinking my interview was a total disaster and being genuinely shocked when I got the job offer.

I can’t understate how life changing this last year has been. Last summer I was at a low point. My year-long job search was proving unfruitful, and I was not really feeling good about myself. I had been working at a small startup doing quality control for short-form video clips on a contract basis, and I was slowly losing my mind.

I’ve grown a lot in the last year, not just as a developer, but also as a person. Financially, being a full time job, it’s given me stability I didn’t have doing contract work. Emotionally, it isn’t as overwhelming to deal with (when I’m not having a bout of Imposter Syndrome). It’s given me the space to work on myself in a way I haven’t really had in a long time.

Hell, even the job itself has allowed me to grow as a person. Right off the bat, I had to learn Next.js, and over time I’ve learned and grown more comfortable with a multitude of technologies that I lacked the confidence to touch or expand my knowledge of. Things like working with databases, something that I’ve found very intimidating in the past, has become not quite second nature, but a lot less overwhelming.

The most important thing I learned, the one common thread tying this last year together, is the importance of just doing. I have a tendency to not believe in myself, and that has led to me saying “I can’t” to a lot of things. “I can’t learn to code.” “I can’t handle working with databases.” “I can’t live in a new place.” “I can’t find happiness.”

For Star Wars Day this year I rewatched The Empire Strikes Back. In that movie, after Luke is unable to use the Force to lift his X-Wing out of the swamp on Dagobah, exclaiming that it’s “impossible”. Yoda sighs and pulls the starfighter out of the swamp himself. Luke, upon seeing this, says, “I don’t believe it.” To which Yoda responds, “That is why you failed.” This scene really struck a chord with me when I watched it this past May. For so long I had been Luke, failing because I didn’t have faith I could succeed.

Of course, belief does not always equal success, though it would be nice if it did. But, what this last year–and honestly, my entire journey into the world of software development–has taught me is that the only guarantee is that not trying, not taking the chance, will always lead to failure. But sometimes, every once in a while, if you believe in yourself and take that chance, you might just succeed.

Learning Life Programming