This year I’m trying to relax. It’s so easy to get swept up in the anxiety of adulthood. Everyone acting like they’ve got a sense when really nobody ever seems to. The first few weeks of this month it was relatively easy to keep my relaxed demeanor. But I will admit that today I broke. This has already been a very stressful week for me. After a bit of conversation it seems like my situation isn’t uncommon but seeing as this is a field I’m only now getting into the full swing of, I came unprepared.
There is something bittersweet about working in another person’s code. When everything is legible it can feel like a beautiful adventure. You slip in and out of functions like winds through branches. The changes you make end up feeling predictable and they give off a sense of completion and purpose. But every little band aid that has been made creates something fairly fragile. Any project whose bones have been broken dozens of times or more will be found dangerously brittle. A single stiff exhale and they crumble to dust.
It can be frustrating to try and pick up those piles of bone dust and rebuild the person they once were. And worse still when on a tight schedule. Poking and prodding make the task less focused and more prone to even more issues. The cycle becomes vicious and disheartening. Especially worse when these issues arise while you are working on it. I’m reminded of the EPA when they tried to repair a mine sometime last year. While trying to prevent it from seeping into the water supply a weak support ended up giving way and sent the entire supply of toxins in the mine into the nearby river.
Many people were unhappy with the EPA. But the fact remained that they were tasked with trying to take care of a collapsing mine. It would have collapsed either way, but in being the entity present when the collapse took place they became the face for the collapse. I feel this way anytime I need to work on other code. I’m almost always confident in my own work these days. Not because it always works but because when it doesn’t I can iterate through it at breakneck pace and fix the issue before I’ve even finished my tea.
But when you’ve got to deal with hundreds, or thousands, of lines of code with everything intermingling like some kind of sex cult it becomes difficult to pull the wheat from the chaff. A seemingly innocuous change on one side of the room ends up sending a butterfly effect throughout. I likened it today to being tasked with removing dominoes from a chain without breaking the flow. Doing so without bumping any of the other dominoes, and without creating too large a gap with those you remove, is a daunting task constructed from an otherwise fairly simple set of rules.
Anyways, it’s really wearing me thin. But I’m going to try and breath. Even if I falter that won’t stop me from trying. And by the end of the week this devil on my shoulder will be defeated.