Retreat into Competence

The problem talked about in this pattern is being overwhelmed with how little we know. I have felt this way many times, pursuing a degree in compSci. There have always been students in my classes that are better developers than I. Whether they have been programming longer than I have, or they are not juggling school with fatherhood, home maintenance, cooking for five, cleaning, paying a mortgage etc.

The solution presented in the text is that we should occasionally retreat for brief intervals into the things we are competent in. Taking some time to build something in familiar languages and frameworks will help ground us in our abilities . We are warned however that going backwards can be risky, if done without proper planning. When going backwards, it is best to set specific time limits for yourself so you don’t get stuck in your comfort zone. We desire comfort and familiarity, but growth does not exist within your comfort zone.

All throughout my life, asking questions to better understand things I am somewhat familiar with or inquiring about things I am not familiar with, is something I have always done. During my time studying to become a developer, I have experienced this feeling of overwhelm from time to time, regarding my ignorance in computer science. Due to my passion for learning, I have sought support and guidance from professors and peers alike, without hesitation. Although this has benefited me greatly in the past, it could be quite useful to retreat for timed intervals doing something I know well and feel confident about.

The idea of setting time limits interests me because it reminds me of Pomodoros, which is something I utilize quite frequently. Setting a timer to work on “task A” and another timer to step back and take a break has been working well for me. Taking that break and using it to do something I am good at and know well could very likely give me the reassurance I need in respect to my knowledge and abilities as a developer. Maybe even developing something I feel competent and confident in would help me to ground myself as a developer.

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