The joy of coding: why I love being a programmer.
I read a book on the history of early programmers, the ones that came to be known as “hackers” and that lay the foundation for modern technologies and the internet. There’s a quote on it and struck me and it’s forever engraved in my memory:
I wish I’ve known that the only thing I needed to be happy was programming.
Paraphrasing, as I don’t remember the exact quote.
When I joined university I had only done a silly website on Dreamweaver, never touched real code before. I noticed programming wasn’t for everyone right at the start. People dropped off like flies. I thought the “computer science it’s the hardest course in here” was just a bluff, spoilers, it wasn’t! But understand code came naturally to me. It’s one of the few things I’ve ever felt actually talented at. Shame I also had to deal with Math.
Fast forward to the present and I’ve been programming for different amounts of time. Professionally for about 3 years. Make it 6 if we count university (and we fucking should because it was tough), make it 7 if we count freelance work I did before going full in.
Being “in the zone” can be described as forgetting everything around you and focusing only on doing that particular thing you’re very good at. It’s achieved when you feel comfortable doing a task, but the problem at hand it’s hard enough to grab your attention. Too easy and you lose focus, too hard and you get frustrated.
When I sat today to continue coding a Chrome extension I felt in the zone right away. I’ve never done Chrome extensions before, but I’ve used all the other technologies involved, so the problem it’s hard enough, yet I feel comfortable tackling it.
After writing a few lines of code I realised how happy I felt. It’s been a stressful week, and sitting down to code on the weekend it’s perhaps the last thing most people would assume are relaxing, but god damn it feels good.
Most good programmers do programming not because they expect to get paid or get adulation by the public, but because it is fun to program.
I’m sure this is the case for anyone who loves their craft. A musician would love to sit down and play on Saturday evening, even if he worked at the orchestra all week. A painter would love to keep polishing his art at home, even if he’s working at the exhibition all month.
You might not think that programmers are artists, but programming is an extremely creative profession. It’s logic-based creativity.
I grew up with a father that dreamed to be a professional painter, and he’s a really good painter, so I’ve always had this “artists gene” on me, and since I’m not the best at artistry stuff, I put my passion in my artistry code.
Seeing people learning to code it’s great. It might sound like I’m upselling being a software engineer, but truly there’s something special about it. We struggle, we get stressed, we swear at the screen, and yet most professional developers are quite satisfied with their jobs.
These are all good reasons to pursue a career you love, so that you can go back home and do some fun work during the weekend and smile while doing so.