My 2022? Reflections (Dev Retro 2022)
My name is Fatuma and my journey toward tech and learning to code has been one of many false starts and sudden stops that have always felt unanticipated.
This is a reflection piece on the ebbs and flows of that journey in 2022 specifically.
Dream Job? 🤔
There is a saying in Swahili that roughly translates to:
A good day is known in the morning
The year started with my father being hospitalized for covid and me being unemployed. It seemed like it was not going to be a good day.
I spend 2021 in my first dev job and working towards completing my master's program. At the end of the year, I was exhausted and decided I needed a break to rethink. So I quit my day job. I had no other offer in hand but I was confident something would work out.
My fathers' hospital stay put a quick pause on that. Thankfully, all worked out with him and I was able to get into it a few weeks later.
So back to the grind it was. I made my first ever open source contribution 🥳, secured a freelance gig and set up a bunch of interviews. The interviews spanned different stacks and time zones. It was interesting to notice trends and the influence of culture.
I was particularly excited to be interviewing with Supabase. It would have been a literal dream come true - to which I owe almost entirely to Jon Meyers's help. Also, a couple of people had suggested that the idea was insane... and I hate being told that I can't do something 😏. Besides, talking to the team was a win in and of itself.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, none of the interviews worked out and the freelance gig simply stalled. But I gained a lot of insights into my positioning and Supabase asked that I join the Supasquad 🎉.
#RoadToGDE happened 🤯
I saw a post about the Road to GDE program by Majid. I sent in an application fully expecting the usual rejection but was accepted. This began an almost 3-month long program where the applicants are paired with existing GDEs to help demystify the program and prepare for it.
While being GDE was always a possibility, it wasn't something I had paid particular mind to. I had placed it as a future goal. This meant that the program brought to the surface all my limiting beliefs regarding my abilities. My imposter syndrome became obvious for the first time in my tech journey. I felt like a fraud and was convinced that there must have been a mistake. It also made me realize that perhaps I didn't truly want it.
This feeling of conflict was further complicated by my recent flutter dev interviews in which it became clear that in the minds of many, Flutter was a mobile framework. Problem? I wasn't a mobile dev and didn't have native mobile experience or interest.
I allowed myself to sit in this discomfort and the accompanying feeling that I had accidentally completely misrepresented myself. Eventually, I accepted that I was a flutter and web dev but not a mobile dev; and that this was a reasonable truth I could work with.
First Tech Talk 🔥
While participating in the Road to GDE program, I prepped for and gave my first in-person tech talk with the help of my assigned mentor, Dominik.
It was an unnerving experience and I'm glad to have been able to lean on the Flutter Kenya community. Most especially Sam. Soon after, one talk became two and I gave my first (virtual) international talk to devs based in Bonny Island.
And then the world went boom.
When Life Grew Dark 😔
It is said that your mental health directly affects your productivity and that your mindset is your greatest weapon. I found this to be true.
Some destabilizing personal news came my way while participating in the GDE program. I pulled through the program and gave the tech talks as a way to distract myself and maintain some semblance of control over my life. But the program came to an end as all things do. And suddenly, I was faced with the reality that all things that could fall apart had fallen apart and that I had no idea how to fix it.
All my enthusiasm dried up. And while I wish I could say I was bitter or angry, I was simply sad. Levels of sadness I didn't know existed. And who knew that energy came from being happy or at least being neutral? I could barely do anything. It felt like waking up in the middle of the night in the middle of the ocean and having no clue how on earth you got there. For someone who likes to be super prepared, considers all scenarios and values free will, I resented how forced it felt. And how powerless I felt over my life and choices.
I was aware that days were turning into weeks with no green squares on my Github, aware that this was bad for whenever I resumed the job search, and aware that I was hurting my career just as it was picking up. But I couldn't get myself to do much, let alone code.
First Paid Freelance Gig 💪🏽
Somehow at the beginning of this funk, I was able to land a simple freelance gig thanks to Jon of NoWhiteBoard. Bagged a great recommendation and a happy client too.
First Open Source Library⚡️
After some time, the coding bug came back and I found myself craving code. I have wanted to give a more meaningful contribution to the Supabase community for the longest. I had an idea and the belief that it was too complicated for me to pull off.
So I popped into Tyler's - a developer advocate at Supabase - Twitter DM's with my idea, suggesting that it be done and offering my help if needed. Only for Tyler to simply pass it back to me and casually invite me to do it 😅. I let him know I'd never done it but would put in an effort. He offered his help if I were to need it.
A couple of weeks of procrastination later, I realized that my idea, if done, was to be part of the Supabase launch week prep. I was surprised by the confidence put in me. It was the push I needed to get it done. Tyler was very quick with PR reviews and offered gentle guidance. And his enthusiasm was infectious.
If you are curious, it was a little helper library to simplify auth in Flutter and Supabase projects. You can check it out over here.
Spiritual Journeys 🚀
With my mental fog clearing, I decided to go for the minor pilgrimage to Mecca. Normally known as umrah. I felt a spiritual reset was needed.
It was my first international trip in almost 10 years and the first time I would spend more than a couple of nights away from home as a mother. It was nerve-wracking, scary and honestly heartbreaking. But I had to do it.
Sometimes you have to take a step back from the world and into yourself.
Outreachy Application 🤩
Amidst my travel preparations, I sent in a last-minute Outreachy application. For those not familiar, Outreachy is a paid open-source internship that focuses on underrepresented groups in tech.
The application process is rather intense and I had to battle the relentless thoughts in my head that told me I was wasting time and no way I would be selected. But I pushed against it and sent it. To my genuine surprise, I was selected 😮.
This was the beginning of the contribution phase in which selected applicants choose projects and start contributing to them. The projects then choose a couple of interns to work with over the next 3 months.
This phase pushed me. Contributing to a foreign codebase, especially in ones that use programming languages you are not too comfortable with was a welcome challenge.
While in the end I wasn't selected, the experience was worth it.
HNGi9 Experience 😎
With the year rushing by and my desire to set my professional life back on track. I decided to participate in the HNG internship experience program. It was more like a game than a guided process. I heard it was hard and wanted to do hard things.
I resolved to simply show up and do my best despite all the chatter about how it was a particularly draining program. My goal was simple: get my GitHub graph looking a bit healthier. My plan? even simpler: keep my eyes on the next step to avoid overwhelm.
Today, I'm happy for the high-pressure high stakes experience and I'm glad to have made it to the finalist stage out of over 10,000 initial participants.
First Paid Technical Content 💚
As the year drew to a close, Supabase asked me to participate in a campaign for their launch week 6. The task was to create a piece of longer-form content around a Supabase service. Of course, I was sold. As you may have guessed by now, I love all things Supabase 🙈.
But this was special, it was my first piece of paid technical content and I'm pleased it was for Supabase 🙏🏽.
A look ahead 🤞🏼
2022 was a year of many firsts and devasting lows for me. A confirmation that it is never all good or all bad. I learned a lot of lessons and experienced uncomfortable growth. Here are some overarching lessons I will be carrying forward:
If you want something, you have to actively move towards it. Straight up ask for it and align your actions accordingly
The world will throw everything it got against you. There will be resistance to your growth. Anticipate it and make a plan to mitigate it.
In the end, it's on you. You have to be your own hero and slay your own dragons.
Go after your goals even if they seem crazy.
If it seems scary, you are probably going in the right direction.
Think they will say No? Wait for them to say it then. Do not self-reject.
Be kind to yourself. Speak kindly to yourself. Give yourself grace.