Software development is a roller coaster ride for the ego.
For every “Aha! I’m a genius!” moment, there are 10 “I’m a freakin’ idiot. How did I ever pass Kindergarten?” moments.
It takes a certain amount of ego to survive a job that is 90% error messages, 100% of which were created by “Guess who? Your-very-own-personal-self.”
We like to blame the computer, but deep down, we know it’s doing exactly what we told it to do, which is, again, 90% of the time, to tell us “Wrong! You are a big, fat idiot who should have been held back in Kindergarten.”
It’s no surprise that seasoned developers grow a nice, sturdy shell around their egos that deflects all potential criticisms with a scoff and a raised eyebrow. We must forgive these experienced developers for sounding like they think they are Almighty, Powerful Sun-Gods Who Make Rain as a Side Hobby. They don’t mean to come off as egotistical, they’ve just forgotten to remove their ego shell before socializing.
That, of course, does nothing to help those of us who still have thin, scab-like ego shells. The criticisms bounce right off the seasoned developer’s backs and skewer us like a Junior-Developer-Tortoise-Kabob. (Tortoise because of the shell–get it? No? Well, you probably shouldn’t admit that. Not admitting what you don’t know is one of the unspoken rules of software development. Violators get sent back to Kindergarten.)
So, how does one survive the daily ego-barrage?
This is where the Developer Pit Crew comes in. (Yep, we finally got to the reason for the title.)
The Developer Pit Crew is the group of people who can be counted on to remind you that, “No, you’re not an idiot. Yes, you did graduate Kindergarten, and no, that was not a clerical error.” For a female developer, this pit crew has the additional responsibility of reminding you that “Yes, you do belong, even if it’s a boy’s club,” and “No, being a geek does not make you any less feminine,” and “No, you have not grown a neck beard or a lightening-shaped scar.”
For me, those people are:
1) My husband, who beams with pride when I go off on a Geek Tangent, and tells me there’s nothing sexier than a smart woman. (And who then, patiently answers, “Yes, I mean you.”)
2) My brother, who told me, “There are people much dumber than you who learn to do this. I know you’re way better than you think you are.”
3) My dad, who, because he is also a software developer, is hard to argue with when he says I know what I’m doing. (Not that I don’t try.)
That’s a pretty bad-ass pit crew, if I do say so myself.