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Are We The Weirdos?
To put the ending first, yes! I think if you’re here reading this on your own time, because you’re in web dev mastodon or (ugh) birdsite, or from a discord server, or you have me in your RSS reader, or did a nerdy google search: yes, we are the weirdos. But it’s really a great kind of weird.
Anyway, the point? Once I started realizing that it’s more of a minority that spends some sub-section of their free time doing web dev stuff, the more I realized how much of an advantage we all have:
- There’s less frustration encountered as the needs of your job often trail the knowledge of your passion.
- And related, it becomes easy to lead the conversation at work when you can be confident of how things are evolving.
- Having the additional exposed context to the wide breadth of the web ecosystem comes in handy constantly, allowing for better system design and thoughtful solutions.
- Being engaged in the community, especially on Discords as I have found, gives you a great resource and platform beyond work walls to gut-check your thoughts and ideas.
Are there downsides?
Yes, I think so. Blurring the line between work and passion can be precarious to manage. I think it’s important to build up some semblance of a wall to make sure you’re pursuing development as a passion in a way that is not work, and instead, still does pique your interest. Related, checking in on yourself to make sure you’re free time endeavors are not additive to burn-out feelings is critical.
It’s really a spectrum
I’m not a fan of binary divisions, so I think this is all a weirdo spectrum of sorts. I’ve come across lots of co-workers that genuinely have deep passion for their work, but they just happen to love doing other fun things in their free time. And I’ve met a few that truly just see it as a job, keeping their skills just as sharp as they need to carry out their responsibilities.
But I really identify with the folks that engage and obsess over it all. Chris Coyier touched on it on the ShopTalk Show podcast recently, saying,
“I always thought that was a cheat code I had for life. It just so happens that something I find relatively entertaining is this kind of thing, not necessarily listening to our show, but I listen to lots of different shows and blogs and stuff, and I read it and do all my RSSing and YouTubing and all that stuff. There’s some negative implications to this too, but as a hobby almost, like I actually kind of find it fun. I say it’s a cheat code because it becomes useful then, like when something comes up I’m like ‘oh yeah that’s the HSTS lists built into chrome browsers…’ and the only reason I know that is because I read something about it one time almost recreationally, not because of my career experience, but because my hobby helped me get there.”
And he’s absolutely right! I don’t think there’s a week that goes by where that extra bit of staying connected to the web development world as a hobby doesn’t help me out with being productive at work.
So if you’re a weirdo like me, I say keep being weird; it’s okay to love what you do professionally to a point where it takes up your leisure time; it’s not something you have to fight if you don’t want to. And that’s quite the final point I want to emphasize: I spent a decent bit of time not allowing myself to be comfortable with this idea, but once I embraced it and said, “hey, it’s great,” it only made things better.