I’m a Coward because I chose to Write Code

Intro

Most of my articles have targeted software development. However, in this article (which may be my last), I have decided to write about something that I usually don’t disclose even to those I’m closest to.

My Way Out

I used software development as a way out of the life that I came from. I didn’t really understand what it meant to code. But I did know that there were high-paying jobs if I brute forced my way to understanding it. So I took out government loans for school and harassed professors at the end of lectures. After a decade of nonstop bombardment, coding finally clicked for me. Some people even believed I was smart. I felt good about myself and my accomplishments. Thus, I continued doing what had proven to work for me. After a while though, I became addicted. Coding not only provided an escape route from my previous lifestyle, but it also became my escape route from reality itself.

I’m no different than a drug addict or a drunkard when it comes to masking pain. Instead of consuming drugs or alcohol though, I’m producing code. So why am I just as guilty? Because, instead of confronting my personal problems head-on, and with a mature manner, I have repeatedly chosen to shelve my problems aside and instead, focus on my career.

“Problems get worse; not better when ignored”

One of my mentors, would consistently utter that phrase to me whenever he’d learn that I was postponing a serious responsibility. Whether it was my physical health, or my personal relationships, he attempted to instill in me that problems only get worse (and not better) when not tackling them head-on.

In my case, instead of seeking professional help to pacify my issues with love ones and physical health, I’d repeatedly use work as my only channel, thus distracting me from my own harsh realities. Although I have reached levels that I’d thought I’d never achieve, I’ve also accrued massive amounts of emotional and spiritual debt. Just like drugs, I would try my hardest to mask my problems by just going to work. My wife would complain when I would abruptly jump out of bed at two o’clock in the morning to go to work. She would skype me hours later just to see my face in a dark lit cubicle where the only source of light is that of my dual monitors which reflects the latest code that I’d just wrote. She didn’t understand why and how I could do this to myself for several days at a time. In retaliation, I would often get angry and tell her that the behavior that she’s complaining about is the exact same behavior that got us living by the beach and having what we have. Instead of seeking counseling to avoid deeper problems, I chose to isolate myself and pursue money instead.

Conclusion

In conclusion, after several years of going full-throttle in my career, I’m now burnt-out. Thus, I now spend a significant amount of time reflecting on my life and those that I have hurt. The result of my reflection strongly suggests that I have been a coward when confronted by my greatest enemies. Hence, I consistently hid behind a keyboard and terminal instead of confronting my personal issues head-on. Thus, making me a coward.

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3 comments
  1. Scott, thank you for being honest and sharing your thoughts. It sounds like you’re in a bad place, but writing this article is proof that you’re taking your situation seriously.

    Something I heard during my burnout: “After walking deeper and deeper into the forest for years, you can’t expect to get back out in a few days.”

    Hope you can take the time to heal, find peace with yourself and make your way out of the forest.
    Get in touch when you feel up for it.

    Wish you the very best.
    -Pav

  2. Thanks. Maybe I’ll just take a flight to your side.

  3. joseagonzalez321 said:

    Great post, Scott.

    I enjoyed your cathartic tone in this blog post. It takes real character to admit an addiction. I connected with you at many levels. I’ve also used coding to escape reality and my problems.

    One thing someone (a semi-mentor) from AA told me bluntly: “We’re both addicts. We just picked different poisons. I picked liquor, you picked something else.”

    Good luck on your burnout recovery.

    (Btw, great Jay-Z song. Love that whole album!)

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