Am I a fraud?

I recently wrote that I was a failed musician, which seemed to happen about the same time I ventured into programming. The more I learned about programming, the more I thought about how I was not putting that time into music. I attempted to be a musician while working dull jobs such as customer service. Finally, I took a small pay cut and transitioned into technical support. Then, I was less miserable at work - and less insistent on making a living with music.

I didn't have enough knowledge to get a programming job (not from lack of trying), and I had worked customer service jobs for years, so I thought I would use that experience and at least move toward working with computers. After a few years of technical support (phone-based help desk jobs), I moved into a desktop support position that required some programming. I had just enough programming experience to complete a basic code test and interview.

Last week marked my eleventh year in this same job. I currently split my time between desktop support, programming, and system administration.

Since starting this job, I went back to school and got a BS degree, and am working on my master's degree now.

However, when I was trying to think of something to write for my new blog, I realized that I didn't know what to write about. I've been programming (at least part-time) professionally for 11 years, and I don't know what to write about.

So I started thinking, "What do I know that I can write about?" I don't know what I know. Maybe what I know is obvious to other programmers, even beginner programmers. Maybe not. It is a new blog. Therefore I have not received any feedback on what people would be interested in hearing about - if anything.

Then I started to think deeply. Maybe I'm not just a failed musician; maybe I'm a failed software developer as well. This thought scares me as I take a couple of things into consideration: layoffs and the current state of my education.

Some recent changes at work remind me that our jobs may are not as stable as they feel. I don't think these changes will affect my job directly, but other people's jobs might change in some way or another. Also, I don't follow all the tech news, but I have seen news stories of programmers being laid off in large numbers still (meaning that I would have to be quite competitive to land a programming job with fewer jobs available).

I think about what would happen if I got laid off. When I started my job, I hadn't completed my Bachelor's degree, and I only had a few years of technical support experience. It wasn't easy to find a new job with limited experience. I must say, though, I came across the right opportunity the day that my previous job announced our layoffs (we were given one week's notice, which is better than I've had in the past). I opened up the job board of the place I wanted to work, found an opportunity, and had the job less than a week later. I started the day before my previous co-workers were out of work.

Worrying about if I could keep a job as good as the one I just found if I got laid off again, I went back to school and obtained a bachelor of science in computer information technology. Not quite the computer science degree I wanted. However, the school and program were a good fit for me. That gave me confidence that with the few more years of experience I had gathered, along with my schooling, I could land a similar job if I lost this one.

In retrospect, I am quite disappointed that I did not major in computer science because it was the coding, software engineering, and algorithms courses that I loved the most. And it is what I enjoy the most at work. So, now, back to school. This time for a computer science degree.

I program part of the day, and I work on school (which requires a lot of programming) at night and on weekends. However, I am not sure that I could pass a job coding interview because I haven't had the time to practice with algorithms and leetcode-style questions. Or at least, I haven't taken the opportunity to practice in the limited time I do have. (I should probably start doing that).

I code part-time, I'm still a student in the evenings, and things at work changed quickly. Not only am I worried that I won't know what to write for my next blog post, but I don't know that I could find a job if I lost this one. That alone might mean I am not qualified to write a blog about programming.

Bottom line, don't listen to me; I a total fraud. Or I feel like one sometimes.

Tonight, I read that I must write consistently for at least six months before considering myself a writer. Hopefully, I can think of some things to write about for the next six months.

The good news is that if I fall short of six months, I am not a failed writer; I was never a writer.

I wish there were a clear-cut line for when I could consider myself a software developer. Doctors, lawyers, and engineers have exams to pass. At what point is one considered a software developer - someone who writes a little HTML, or someone who writes sophisticated machine learning and AI algorithms? Or is it after answering x number of problems on code challenge websites?

Five years from now, I'll look back at this post in one of two ways. First, might say, "No wonder I didn't make it as a writer/blogger; I was doubting myself within the first 10 posts." Or, hopefully, I will laugh and say, "Can you believe I doubted myself just as I got started? Good thing I didn't quite back then."

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