The importance of not labeling yourself in tech
Remain the infinite being that you are
Labels have as much meaning in coding as they do in life.
However in the software, they should always define purpose and purpose in development keeps evolving and changing, and ideally, in life, they would too.
As soon as I published my second blogging article here on Medium, I was invited to be part of the writer’s team for the Code Like a Girl collective. Shocked and happy to get featured, I took a moment and also permitted myself not to label my writing work as one of a strict girl coder and here is why.
The line between learning how to code and getting paid to program as a profession is not a smooth line to cross for many people, so in the meantime, you should try finding something that brings you joy to lighten the burden of uncertainty.
“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” Julia Child
For me that was writing, but I am not a writer, I code but I am not just a coder, and like that, I practice numerous activities that do enhance my definition of self, but I’ve come to realize that moreover, how I choose not to express myself, decidedly can define me just as much.
In real life, labels aren’t necessarily wrong, but they can be constricting. Most people assume, erroneously, that using a label word to define something, means that we don’t need to understand it in depth. Because you already have a pre-formed understanding of the word, so instead you try to understand the word itself and what it means, but not what it is doing in that context every single time we use it.
“Empathy begins with understanding life from another person’s perspective. Nobody has an objective experience of reality. It’s all through our own individual prisms.” Sterling K. Brown
But in software that changes, and labels can have a drastic impact, and its repercussions are radical — take calling yourself a Developer instead of Junior Developer and see what I mean.
The difference in the life cycle of a label in programming is that the conversation which creates it is always happening in the now, and at the foreground, the context is based on as much existing knowledge and research as possible. Because unlike the real world, a good maintainable code base has the vital characteristic of being kept small and each part remaining contained is critical, so they are more accessible to update and advance. Which sometimes is a nonviable choice in the real world.
Here in the real world, things don’t work like in a software program, and the error margin while making a label judgment is very high, and so is labeling yourself the wrong thing.
With that in mind, the foregoing living by labels for me is over, but I am fiercely aware that in any case when it comes to defining yourself, you should go big or you should go home.