Being a programmer means that my default state is to be at the edge of my current capabiliy. I’m rarely in any sort of comfort zone, and looking around the Internet, I’m constantly reminded of just how much I still have to learn.
There is a level of sharing in our profession that allows us to literally look at master craftsmen as they are building their best work. There is a huge body of open source work where we can see every line of code added and removed. Commit messages tell us the justification for every single change made to the codebase, all the way back to the very first line written. And on top of that, we can read about the design decisions as they are hashed out in online discussions. No matter how good we become, the open nature of the Internet rams home the harsh truth: someone, somewhere, has the expertise to expose us as mere imposters.
Ours is a commitment to lifelong learning and sometimes it can feel like an endless slog. However, if we embrace our never ending education, we can thrive and grow not just as craftsmen, but as humans. I’ve noticed that good programmers have a deep intellectual self-confidence. One that comes through doing something over and over again, constantly. Good programmers know that they can learn just about anything if they apply their mind to it. No, it won’t be easy. No deep insight comes easily. But it can be done. They know because they do it all the time.