A crisis of confidence, outside the gym

NB: this post is not about training!

As I mentioned a few days ago, I’ve recently moved from a front-end development team at work into a Ruby (more back-end) one. I’ve been a developer for over 14 years at this point, but have mostly done front-end for the last 10 years or so (initially I did a bit of everything, including web design) so this is a whole new world for me.

And my confidence is totally shaken. Previously, I would have said I was an unspectacular but very solid front-end developer – a “journeyman” developer, really; never destined for greatness and innovation and books & stuff, but reliable and able to get shit done. I used to get nervous when moving to new companies & new projects, but I was always confident I’d get it eventually.

Now… oh my god, I have no idea. Ruby & back-end dev require a whole new way of thinking, new coding conventions, new tools, new everything. If I was a fresh-faced developer I might be able to take this in my stride, but as someone who previously thought she was pretty sorted, it’s scary stuff.

Yesterday I did my first commit to the repo, and it got torn to pieces. My coding conventions were off, the automated testing alarms (not literal) all sounded; I know things like this are normal for new starters but I was embarrassed. I’ve already been very stressed this week with preparation for my talk at Bacon, and this sort of pushed me over an edge – I wanted to cry on the tube home, and once I got home my poor boyfriend was treated to me going “I hate development I don’t want to be a developer any more I hate it I hate it but what else can I doooooo??? Waaaaaahhhhhh!!

Luckily, he is awesome and plonked a glass of wine in front of me, cooked me a nice dinner of fish & chips (with salad; I’ve been a bit lax with the veggies recently) and listened to me whinge. He also listened to me doing yet another run-through of my Bacon talk. I’m very lucky to have a great partner who 1) gives me wine; 2) cooks; 3) is an ex-developer himself and 4) does conference talks all the time so is able to give me loads of pointers.

Today I feel better. I’m at work, I’m going to fix the problems with my commit, and then I’m going to suggest that maybe the team works on some form of Guide for New Starters, where we can learn the coding conventions and style and be informed about the tools & automation etc.

This lunchtime I’m going to do the final bit of work on my slides for Bacon.

Tonight I have training (heavy bench) at BGWLC, then go to the Bacon pre-conference meet & greet for speakers. My talk is at 11.45am on Saturday, and I am bricking it. I can’t wait until it’s done & I can relax; and then get back to normal training next week.