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Posts Tagged ‘Imposter Syndrome’

Ploddingly Slow, But Thorough

April 5, 2021 6 comments

I cracked open one of my C++ programming books recently and started leafing through it in the hope of stirring up some warm memories of my use of the language to wrestle embedded systems problems into submission. Instead, I immediately experienced a moment of existential horror! My cherished language of choice all of a sudden looked like an intimidating, unfathomable, encrypted mess. I thought for a moment that I was having my second stroke.

It’s scary at how one can forget so much so fast unless one arduously burns calories to maintain a high level of competence in an area crucial for putting food on the table.

After regaining my bearings, I realized that most programmers who know other languages but don’t know C++ experience an instance of the same abject terror when they scrutinize C++ code for the first time. It’s too bad, but it is what it is.

Before my life was abruptly upended by the Emperor, I used to be a ploddingly slow, but thorough, C++ programmer. But as anyone who has read this blog quickly discovered, I ain’t never been no genius. I had to work much harder and longer than most to become a C++ craftsman. Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 hours to become a subject matter expert” threshold to prosperity is too low of a bar to apply to dumschitts like me. I needed 2X the time to become internally confident that I was an excellent C++ programmer. It was a difficult but satisfying road to travel because my mind was richly rewarded with the excitement of learning something new whenever I danced with C++’s exquisitely rich feature set and its “std::” (affectionately pronounced as “stood” 🙂 ) libraries in my head.

While coding away on problems, I was always thinking in the background about what I could do to help future maintainers understand the code ASAP so they could get something done without getting frustratingly stuck. I’m embarrassed and sad to admit it, but it was more of a classic, fear-based, ego-driven mission than an altruistic one. I was afraid of feeling like schitt whenever I envisioned colleagues reading my code. I yearned for everyone who read the code to say “Wow, I wish I knew this maestro!“, instead of “WTF!” after every few lines.

To drill deeper into what I’m exposing here about my dark passenger, I was firmly in the clutches of the “impostor syndrome” for most of my undecorated career. But hey, despite the fact that Stroustrup, Sutter, Meyers, Josuttis, Kalb, Lavavej, Lakos, Williams, Carruth, Niebler, Boehm, Alexandrescu, Gregory, Davidson caused my cancer ( <– just joking), it was a fun, multi-decade, journey down the C++ rabbit hole. I’m extremely gratefuI that all of those wonderful teachers took me along for the adventure.

In closing out this post, I remembered the need to blatantly include some Bitcoin propaganda in it. So, say ‘ello to my leetle friend…

I wish the tat was orange instead of black, but the artist didn’t have any orange ink in her pallet. I’ll make sure my upcoming neck tat is full Satoshi orange though.

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