Gaining Confidence and Skill

I can’t believe I’ve been working on the kernel for a month already. At least, when I think of the passage of time, it does’t seem like I could have been. By the changes that I observe in myself, though, I know I have.

I know a lot that I didn’t know before, and I’ve learned faster than I did in school. I went from “OMG it’s the actual kernel!” to seeing it as just a piece of software, albeit one that is fascinating and incredibly enjoyable to work on. Using vim, at least the commands I know so far, has become second nature. IRC has become a new way to connect with people, and I’ve made Git do things that I never dreamed it could do, even after three workshops.

I’ve acquired some new habits and a new rhythm to my work. Hacking, compiling, generating and submitting the patch, checking the mailing list, and hacking some more has become a self-perpetuating cycle. Hacking time drives my schedule, instead of the other way around (although, to be fair, my speaking engagements this month have had their way with it, too). My typing has improved. I even tried to scroll down a Stack Overflow page with the ‘j’ key yesterday. (It just occurred to me that there might be a Chrome extension for that…)

But most of all, it’s my relationship with myself that has changed. I’m no longer intimidated by new projects. That panic I had over the BTRFS task seems silly now. I’m no longer afraid to ask for help, which is something that had me paralyzed for years. I know the feeling of being a member of a competent, mutually supportive team, and I know that I don’t have to try to cut it alone. “I can” is becoming my default assumption. And I’m thinking of myself, not as someone who programs, but as a programmer. I’m no longer on the outside, hoping and striving. I tingle with the exhilaration of my new found power. I’ll never go back.

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