Time For A Change?

Time For A Change?

Cliff EdgeAs I write this I’m not sure if I’m going to post it but I need to collect my thoughts, analyse what lies beneath my severe depression and inability to lift out of this state for any length of time.

There was a girl and she loved to program, to see the moving parts in her mind and then actually craft them in this magical box in front of her so that they would turn and flow like some marvellous kinetic sculpture.

She had more than an interest: it was her passion, bordering on obsession. Whole weekends would be spent shaping the parts, assembling them, testing their fit and making adjustments until everything ran as she envisaged.

It wasn’t her only interest. She enjoyed writing and drawing too, as well as having a voracious appetite for reading and learning, following the threads of her curiosity through encyclopaedias, dictionaries and any other reference books she could lay her hands on.

She realised that she could make a career of what she always referred to as her hobby and so began her working life in the software industry. A lot of it was good, some of it was wonderful, but as the years went on and she became more experienced and adept in the technical skills, so she felt more constrained by the work she was being asked to perform.

Her happiest times were when she had the freedom to express herself through her work, to build something that was hers and that she knew every part of. The work that she remains most proud of goes right back to near the beginning of her career. It’s something that has stood the test of time, remained in use for the best part of two decades.

What she does today is of high quality, but there is little scope to be creative. The design space is small and tightly-constrained. It isn’t stimulating. She needs to be able to exercise her imagination, let her mind drift and experiment with new forms and combinations.

Maybe her time developing software has run its natural course? Maybe the industry has moved on and there is no longer a place for experimentation and blue-sky projects? Maybe the day of those who program for the sheer joy of it are numbered and they are doomed to be replaced by those for whom it’s merely a job?

Whatever the reasons, she feels the time is ripe to consider a new direction. To indulge her passions once again. She feels a strong need to do the things that matter to her, that make her life feel worthwhile.

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And then this weekend she read Art Matters by Neil Gaiman and was particularly struck by these words:

If you have an idea of what you want to make, what you were put here to do, then just go and do that.

And that’s so much harder than it sounds and, sometimes in the end, so much easier than you might imagine.

She doesn’t know how to get where she wants to be without throwing away everything that she has right now. She stands on the edge of a cliff, reeling from vertigo, unwilling to step back away from the edge but terrified to take that step out into the unknown.

7 thoughts on “Time For A Change?

    1. I need a certain level of income to support myself comfortably and I’m very reluctant to risk that because uncertainty over my finances is a huge source of anxiety. So I’m wondering if I can find enough time to pursue my dreams while continuing to work full-time.

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  1. It’s silly, isn’t it? The way we cling onto what we already have, even if it isn’t good. Because that stability is so important to us. And in this particular respect: just throwing away our current job means risking the roof over our heads and the food in our mouths.
    I find myself in almost the same predicament, except I don’t currently work in something that used to have my passion. And I don’t know what to do either. Something needs to change. But how?

    But coming back to you: you write code. This means big software programs? Websites? Apps? Do you think it is possible to find yourself a different branch? A different type of projects? Or is it the working methods you struggle with? Management? Do you have a clear idea of what it is that is constraining you? Because it’s not coding itself that bothers you.

    I am currently a software tester (happens to be a job they actively recruit autistic people for) and I have noticed there certainly are many different types of projects and different ways higher management (in big companies) can screw up whole projects because of stupid planning, and then suddenly decide Agile/Scrum is the answer, but they don’t quite understand what it means so they screw it up even more. And you see the developers and the business analists and the testers and everyone shrink in on themselves, just trying to keep afloat. And no-one’s happy. And every feels they could be doing so much of a better, more fulfilling job if “They” only kept to themselves.

    Maybe you could use your coding in a different way? Create an app that you need, that doesn’t exist yet? Help an organization with their website?
    Your art doesn’t need to take over the world or even your life immediately.

    I don’t know, just throwing around ideas here 😉

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    1. I know that I can still get that same old buzz from coding. It’s just that too much of the work these days is maintenance and small modifications that rarely require much creative thought or problem solving.

      I don’t mind maintaining systems, because that’s an important part of the job and I always take pride in delivering to a high quality.

      I am keen to exercise my creativity in different directions, but I’m also mindful that I need stability – and I have important commitments that mean I need to maintain my income. So my idea is to make sure I spend time writing, drawing, painting. And cooking because that’s another creative activity that I enjoy. If I can find a balance that works for me then I think I can move forward. I need to be able to express myself through my art: that’s a vital part of my life.

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