I've learned a lot about being a good mentee and the value of being a mentor over the last year and some change. I'm gluttonous when it comes to knowledge. I want to know the who, what, when, where, why, and how when it comes to pretty much everything. Especially coding. I am not satisfied with the automagical, nor the "it just works, so do it." WHY DOES IT WORK? HOW DOES IT WORK? TEACH ME ALL THE THINGS!!! And copy and paste is NOT coding, damnit! As a mentor, I WANT to hear those questions because I am going to answer them regardless. I want you to be engaged (remember that last post about empathy?); I want you to care about the company, the product, the client, the coworkers, but I really want you to care about you. And that means I want you to know all the things, too. I do not know all the things, to be clear, but I'm always pushing myself, my mentors, and my mentees to teach me what I don't know. I was really nervous about taking on the role of project lead and being a dedicated mentor. Not because I'm scared of failure. Coding has actually retrained my brain to KNOW that failure is a chance to learn all the things that lead up to it and then fix it. I get paid to break things, y'all! I'm scared of mediocrity though. I mean, this has legitimately been my existential crisis since the age of 16 or so, but I'm gaining confidence and I'm gaining ground. I can tell you, show you, teach you things and I know the who, what, when, where, why, and hows because I was not afraid to be annoying, to feel like a nuisance, to demand the answers. And if I don't know, I'm gonna find out, so we both know. I've learned a lot from my mentors, both what kinds of things I want to implement and what kinds of things I want to avoid. So, if you want my two cents (warning: you are going to get it), do not be afraid to ask questions and make patience your virtue, if only for a few hours of your day, so that the person who comes after you has fewer of them. On the flip side, bang your head, why else do you have that desk?! Bang it and bang it until you reach a point where the headdesking is outweighing the productivity. I'm literally a tiny human and it often makes people naturally protective of me, which in turn can lead to more hand-holding than is helpful, so I had to train myself the headdesk vs productivity balance. So, yes, ask all the questions, but also seek all the answers the hard way, and somewhere along the way, you'll start to learn that you really do "got this".
And now I can't stop thinking about manatees:
Image courtesy of Carol Grant - Getty Image via Time
Let's talk web development, readers, because this is my life, this is the way I process information, and this is my passion and profession now. I'm gonna refer to the movie Reality Bites several times in this post because I'm on the tail end of Gen X, but I am sooooo Gen X, no question. When I saw that movie in theaters in 9th grade, I knew it was my defining generation, for better or for worse 'cause this is one thing I can't divorce. And I cried for... I'm still crying. AND I still want to get a tattoo that says "Troy Dryer ruined my life!", but I'm too Gen X and not hipster enough to do it. And I'm too Gen X to commit to it, so there you have it, friends. But, let it be known, Troy Dyer DID ruin my life.
To the real topic of this post, however, TDD has been on my mind a lot. We don't formally use TDD at my place of employment. Honestly, I don't know how we could as we have a completely customized framework. So, I try to think of myself as the TDD/QA AS I am coding. Reality Bites: "How can we repair all the damage we inherited?". This is my work life. Especially now as I am rewriting/refactoring/headdesking the code out of a base project for all future projects that someone I really adore, and therefore shall not be named, has been coding INTO instead of overriding *HEADESK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!*.
Here's where my head's at (I mean besides slammed against the desk). I was looking at that last post I made in 2016, which is such a sad cry for help, but now I'm seeing some very different real world and important application to it. Specifically, to coders. Focus on the user experience while you are coding; be the user AND the developer. If you can empathize with the user, you will catch bugs and mistakes in the first development stages, saving you and QA a lot of grief. And, most importantly, delivering the best product to the user within the most effective timeframe.
When I started my current position, I had an amazing co-worker who was referred to as "the goalie" by another colleague when she QAed other colleagues' work. When I joined their project, he quickly learned there were two goalies in the office. Coincidentally, both of us are women. It has been my experience that women are more empathetic than men, but it's still up for debate. What I do know from personal experience is that caring about the user experience and practicing empathy towards the user when coding is a better way to code. Really it's just a better way to live.
So, Lelaina Pierce, the answer to "How do we repair all the damage we inherited?" is not " The answer is... the answer is... I don't know." The answer is empathy. And maybe some headdesking, deep breathing, and letting a few four letter words slip here and there. And a good glass of wine.
So, it's been quite the hiatus for me and this blog and basically everything has happened and it's been terrible and good and mind-blowingly heart wrenching. And I'm still SUPER raw, but I'm gonna tell you, reader, the short version despite how scary and vulnerable that is.
I lost both of my sons. This, it's too painful, it's too sacred, so I can only give you this much information.
I got divorced. And then I dragged out a codependent, abusive relationship for 2 more years, BUT... hey you gais (a la Goonies)!!!! I learned a lot, a lot, a lot. And then I ghosted him because, well, frankly, I had nothing left to say. I'm not proud of this, but it's how I handled the situation at the time.
I fell in LOVE. I found out about web development bootcamps, so I went over to DevPoint Labs, got the Grace Hopper scholarship, quit my job, and went to a full-time Ruby on Rails fire hose to the face learning extravaganza. Talk nerdy to me, baby!
I fell DEEPLY in love. I got a job in web development and it is SQL heavy. I may be the most boring person on earth, but SQL makes my heart soar. And I love to make the rest of my code LISTEN to my SQL. I love coding, you guys. Did I make that clear?
I found HOPE. I have talked and talked and talked about and through and in and out of just about everything for decades and it helped, but I needed something more. And now, now I am taking ACTION. Because I am tired of talking. So, like my grandfather, George, I found boxing. I box at a traditional, Brooklyn-style gym. Sometimes you just need to hit things, people. You have to sweat it out with a community of other people who are watching your back.