Why I Do What I Do
Published by James Gallagher on .
This article takes approximately 4 minutes to read.
Every so often it becomes necessary for me to re-evaluate why I do the things that I do. On a walk with my mother a few weeks ago, I said that one of my greatest strengths and weaknesses is being self-aware. I can spend days pondering my life, just like Epicurus would have wanted if I had been a student in his school of life. On some days, such pondering is necessary. On others, it becomes ardous; a mental burden.
Lately, I have been thinking about why it is that I use technology in the first place. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to live a Thoreau-inspired lifestyle. After deep contemplation, I have arrived at the reason why I like to work with technology.
The reason that I started to take on more technical writing assignments at my job was that I found some joy in writing about programming. The concepts I write about are generally simple but that does not make the work any less interesting. Writing about how to do something in a programming language is, for me, interesting. I am only one small part of a learner’s journey. My article may only help one thing click in their mind. But it is that one thing that keeps me going. I know that I may be able to help someone overcome a great challenge or mental blocker they are facing.
I never decided that I wanted to become a technical writer. It happened naturally. Perhaps that is one reason why I have felt it necessary to think about why I write about technical topics. I moved into technical writing because an assignment came up at work that sounded interesting. It has been an exhilierating journey and one that I hope to continue for a long time.
Technical writing is my way of helping others. I have spent years learning how to code. I cannot admit to being as good as many other people at programming. I am a good writer and a good programmer. I feel like this synthesis of skills allows me to confer some value onto new programmers. If you read one of my articles, I hope that you’ll be able to learn something, or at least reinforce a piece of knowledge that is already in your mind.
Careers and the Future
The topic that has caused the most frustration in my life is careers. I spent this morning thinking about them in the back of my mind. I spent yesterday evening pondering them at length. It’s been a recurring theme in my life. In high school, careers were always something that I thought about. I cannot say what I will do next in my life but I do know that whatever I do, I want to write about technology.
I am not sure if I could be a full-time programmer. Coding tires me out quite quickly. You may have noticed, if you have been following this blog, that I haven’t written about technology in a few days. I have needed a break. I’ve not been coding a lot over the last few weeks even though I was doing a lot of programming before that. Coding interests me but not to the extent where I can work all day on a project.
I know that coding is a valuable skill. I do not know how best to apply it in the world. What I do know is that there are a lot of great people out there in the world who can use programming to change the way in which we live. Learning the basics of Python may not exactly be the most world-changing activity. It’s what readers do with what they have learned that matters. Python could be used to analyze climate change data. I may not be an expert at climate change but I know that I can help someone who is do better work by helping them learn to code.
I’ve always been fascinated by the intersection of coding and education. Coding has come naturally to me. For all of the moments where I just want to give up on a project because I lose interest, coding sticks with me. Now that I’ve spent some time thinking about this, I feel a bit more refreshed. I feel like my work is just a little bit more meaningful. I wanted to write this as a blog post because I know how frustrating careers are for people.
This is my journey but maybe there’s a little something that you can find in this; hope, inspiration, or just to learn that there is in fact someone else going through what you are experiencing right now. What I would say is that this only clicked over a cup of coffee at my local coffee shop. It took me days of conscious effort to piece together why I do what I do. Sometimes all I need is a little break.