Where did all my hair go?!
I started programming when I was 6. I had a full head of hair.
Now I'm 31. And all my hair is gone.
In tech circles, 31 feels old. You 40-year-olds might scoff at that notion, but since turning 30 I've felt a distinct shift in the way I make decisions. I'm less inclined to dream big and more inclined to play it safe. That's not to say I don't still dream big, but I examine caveats with more scrutiny than I did when I was 21.
I'm not as easily manipulated into work I don't enjoy
When I was 21, I'd jump at the opportunity to build new things, even if it meant compromising my values or sacrificing all my time. At 21 I had a desire to prove myself and my worth. That, and I don't think I possessed the resilience to stand my ground.
Now I vet projects with great scrutiny before committing. I want to work on projects that add great value to the lives of others and to work with people who value their time as much as mine.
I'm not sure I would have even uttered such sentiments ten years ago. I was afraid of being cast aside---of being seen as elitist or unappreciative. But now I realize being discerning and being grateful aren't mutually exclusive.
My aims lie not in achieving an "exit", but in doing great work
I've seen a few of my friends and colleagues "make it big."
I think it's amazing when someone finds their way to the pot of gold. And if I someday have mine, I'll feel blessed for it.
But that's not what all of this is about.
We're craftspeople. We thrive in the creative journey. To create is to leave a legacy bigger than yourself.
No amount of money can ever do that. Fame cannot do that.
Ten years has shown me my happiness comes not from cashing out but from pitching in.
Experience is an invaluable asset
When I was 21, I said "yes" to just about everything.
Can you build this app for me? Yes!
Do you want to take on another project? Yes!
Can we get this done by next week? Yes!
At 31, I know the naivety of that sort of indiscriminate head-nodding. Now my greatest asset isn't my willingness to say "yes" all the time, but my ability to know when to say "no."
I worry about different things
I don't worry about whether I'll make rent next month, but I do worry about whether I'll have work next year. That is, I've learned how to manage my resources but am fearful of being made redundant.
But I'm choosing to be an optimist in that regard. Continuing to learn and grow and connect has never done me wrong. And to witness the arc of technological progress over the course of the past decade gives me hope that tomorrow's digital products will be richer and more immersive than ever before. I want to be a part of that. I will be a part of that.