Your job is not supposed to make you feel like a rock star and that's OK

December 8th, 2017
Listening to: "Live Forever"--Clepsydra

This will be the first post on my new blog and, forgive me, it will be very American-centric. In America, we equate earner-ship with ownership. I earn my living as a programmer. Here we go.

I've been sort of tickled over the last couple of years to not only be participating in the tech economy, and working in the tech industry, but getting to know firsthand what the "tech culture" is. As a young girl, I felt like tech was this thing I did alone in my room, while my parents were at work, so that the dial-up didn't interrupt any would-be phone calls from overseas. Tech was this lonely click-clack of plastic keys to plastic keyboard. It was learning HTML & CSS to pass the time. It was a potentially friendless adulthood where I would never be as cool as anyone that I actually looked up to.

In my own experience, fortunately, that hasn't been the case. I see the tech industry as a potential breeding ground for social change, and actual breeding ground for progress & collaboration. I am warm about what I do for a living! It's not the sexiest or the bestest, but it's neat. I get to do something pleasant and spend time with wonderful people. Some people are not so warm towards tech culture. Some people are into it, but for really self-serving, terrible reasons.

At some point, I and most every other Childhood Dork survived puberty and made it to adulthood. I still spend a lot of time listening to music, writing code, sorta isolated, sorta meh all-by-myself--but, for the most part, thankful for an economically-viable skill and the opportunity to use it. I've also been fortunate to have a sort of secondary career as a musician, though, which (like programming) allows me to travel to lots of new communities and make lots of new friends at events. I have a smattering of hobbies (soapmaking, hair braiding, resin-casting) and a soon-to-be five-year-old daughter.

One of my favorite parts of CakeFest 2017 was how focused it was not just on producing good PHP and on the CakePHP project-at-large--but also on the fact that, in order to be a good programmer, one needs to not just be a programmer. The core devs discussed how they enjoyed salsa dancing & home restoration. The keynote speaker, Ed, promoted his 501(c)3: Open Sourcing Mental Illness. In his presentation, Ed from OSMI called Apple out (as many had at the time) for the following ad:

I rarely get to see my kids. That's a risk you have to take.

In a delightfully opposite-of-that tone, this is the tweet that kicked my week off:

We need to, as programmers, come to better terms with the fact that we work in an industry that actively encourages us to live in that industry. Like, legitimately live there, and take our dogs for walks there and get haircuts there. We're often expected to have hobbies that match the things we do for money, voluntarily contribute to open-source projects, and suffer burnout as a battle scar in our fight to become real robots. We call people who achieve status & success "rock stars."

And then other industries do this too. And this weird brand of careerism, seemingly, is actively encouraged by our culture and our society, and any sense of lackadaisical attitude from the poor is met with disdain.

Sometimes I wonder how many other people in my country sit at desks or behind cash registers with big dreams in their heads all day long and then I remember that it's all of us.

LEAVE LOVELY INSPIRATIONAL COMMENTS! What do you do to take the edge off? What do you do to remind yourself that you're more than "just" a whatever-your-job is? Actually, hold up: what do you do to remind your employers and your superiors that you're more than "just" a whatever-your-job is?

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