Struggling first steps as a new senior

Recently I began my first steps as a senior software developer. Up to this date I’m preparing to just give in to my anxiety and hand over my resignation as I classify myself being unfit for my role.

Initially I was against writing this post. The other side of me also wanted to just write whatever I felt these past few months because I think it just helps me channel my anxiety and perhaps ease it a bit. I personally don’t have a lot of people to talk with. I am a self-taught programmer, highly increasing that anxiety further as I’m around these amazing individuals with their engineering degrees and computer science degrees. And it breaks me to pieces that I feel like I don’t have a whole lot to offer, especially in this time and age what can I exactly offer in 2021 when everything is so readily available on the internet.

As a person who used to own a food stand trying to make ends meet years ago coming to this field has somewhat broken me. And along the way I also lost a lot of my identity as I started my career in software development. I had to eat a lot of books, concepts, architectures, you name it. I tried to keep up with a lot of stuff and I still struggle with some things. Yet I also had to sacrifice a lot of my social life just to make it somewhere in life the result is probably just this weird oddball that I am.

I have always been result-driven as I could. I’m proud of a lot of recent achievements that’s not related with my current role or company even gaining that vote of confidence among technical leads and my assigned technical lead to become the next technical lead in the previous company I worked for.

To this date their vote of confidence still means a lot. Even if things didn’t pan out as planned as at the end of the day due to some disagreements at the management level of the company.

Now, I guess I’m more of an oddball on these situations. Usually any “normal” person, regardless if they are unfit, would just stick to the position like glue just because it pays well and all that. I can’t be that person. I’m more of this shut-in super introvert person trying to give it my best.

I always wondered what defines a senior.

And guess what? I have no idea. You go to Google and you could probably find a generic outline of what a senior should be or not. I also wonder what is the difference between a junior or mid developer to a senior developer.

My answer what defines a senior becomes a “things that I am not”.

I’d like to think that given my poor mental health over the past few months is taking its toll on me, wearing me out slowly until I just give in.

Honestly I wonder what let the company hire me… wondering if it was just pure luck, as if you just hit the jackpot and there’s this human resource person calling you over: “congratulations! We are just here to talk about the offer and we will e-mail you all the details and papers to sign.”

Even to this date I’m just wondering, “how the heck did I get this?”, in disbelief.

The first days I was losing it a bit (still am). It was a struggle keeping myself composed. I was just entranced by even presenting myself to the group of people who honestly my first thoughts were “man, I’m pretty sure these people know more than me”. Most of who I would mentor slowly later on in the following days and learn a bit more about them.

I even messed up my introduction being the anxious ball that I am and said some things that didn’t quite belong in there.

The funny thing is that they slapped me this “lead” title on me. Let’s be honest for a second any person that has entered a project is nowhere leading level even if you are all the hands-on type. I didn’t know anything about the code base. I didn’t know anything about the architecture. I just quite frankly didn’t know anything about anything of the project I was in I was literally thrown in like a plug-and-play device in a Windows 98 machine just cross finger it doesn’t crash. Yet here I was, new senior developer oh and I’ll be leading the charge.

Thankfully the becoming “the lead” bit was just how the project manager organized things. It wasn’t the traditional “project lead” meaning that I would expect but rather more of tasks I would be in charge of with a tiny team then reporting back to project higher-ups.

In all honestly while the project leads have been extremely supportive to the point I have asked feedback from them as I’m somewhat comfortable talking with some it sometimes felt I just received this generic “you are doing fine” message.

As a new senior in training wheels, and possibly diapers. I regret speaking my mind in the sense it might get me in trouble with management. They weren’t inappropriate subjects by any means but they were also the ones you don’t talk with people that are starting in the field because you don’t want to just demotivate them by accident.

The truth is that just because I had a harsh time in other companies doesn’t apply to other individuals. I would love to say “sadly” as in acknowledging that my world view is wrong but then it would sound like I’m hoping for them to experience it in which I say I hope to God it never happens to you. My experiences have left me but a tad jaded but not as jaded as some older folks in the company who sometimes would speak to me and share this tale of how their time is over and how unfair things have been.

So how does that above apply to being a senior? Well, these are fresh graduates individuals with a lot of burning passion in them and the least you want to do is just share these jaded stories with them even as an anecdote because some might take them as a “oh crap what type of field did I get into?” (which honestly, who hasn’t asked this over the years?)

In terms of offering my help to other developers as a senior I have felt bad that some junior developer come to me for recommendations on the solution. Words failed me because I honestly have no idea what the person is working on and I cannot just whip up a quick solution without context on what he’s supposed to work on. So I look at the code and it sure has a lot going for it to the point I was wondering if the class was just doing way too many things that could be abstracted away and become reusable components.

Regardless of my first impressions of the code. Being the new person in the project, I’m literally the least person to ask but perhaps he felt he could find guidance under me. I’m so sorry I couldn’t give you proper guidance.

All in all. This has given me a lot to ponder on about. I’ve been thinking of just retiring… or just moving on out of this field. As I get older I feel it’s just harder to carry on this uncertainty if I’m executing tasks to the best of my abilities.

Given the years I feel like my mental health has gotten worse so… perhaps it’s time to finally just put the gloves off and call it. Sadly I don’t know of many people who perhaps has gone through this either.

Ultimately I think my simple wish is just to work for a company by humans for humans without a hyperactive culture that requires you to actively engage in activities all the time, you now something more organic.

At the end of the day it’s just me and my mental health, and perhaps I’m already too broken to continue this fight.

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