I stumbled upon a blog post The Toxic Glorification of Working Hard and while reading it I began to reflect on my own life.
Over the past 5 years, ever since graduating from college and my short stint as a Substitute Teacher, I have been a programmer. I go to work, solve problems, and go home. What this article brought to my attention is something that I believe but have frequently felt insecure about.
It’s okay to go home. It’s okay to leave work at work.
There is a rising trend in the programming world surrounding the idea of hard work. Even I wrote a post about how Hard Work Still Means Something. But hard work has taken on a whole other meaning in the workforce surrounding programming and software development. As I read the blog post I was familiar with a lot of the expectations that are set on programmers:
- Working long hours and weekends
- Unrealistic deadlines
- Thinking about the problems while away from the office
- Eating at your desk because you’re busy
- Getting more work done than your peers
Sometimes the Imposter Syndrome gets to me. If my peers are working long hours and don’t seem to mind it, where does that leave me? What does it say about my work ethic if I choose to leave work by 5pm and leave work and work. Does that make me a less valuable employee? Does that make me “not a team player”? Does that mean I am in the wrong field?
The thing is, I don’t identify as a programmer. Sure, that is what I do from 9–5, but the rest of the time I’m more than that. I’m a traveler, a dog dad, a writer, a campfire guitar player, a dreamer. It just so happens that programming has allowed me to afford the lifestyle I desire. It’s the old adage, I so far have chosen to work to live, not live to work. If I was living to work, I would be in a different field.
So where does that leave me? I will never be a rockstar programmer for one of the titan software companies like Google or Facebook. I also never want to be. I want to be a valuable asset to a company and build useful and “cool” things. I want to build my own things that I find useful and “cool”. But most of all, every single day I want to be able to leave work at work and go do the things I love to do.
But I don’t know how to fight this culture. How do you convince a company that you’re valuable when the person next to you is willing to put in nights and weekends?
I don’t have the answer. I’m looking for one.