Masha Reko - Apprenticeship Blog

What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing. (Aristotle)

Day 28: The Root of The Problem

If you thought that yesterday I was done with retrospectives for this week - you were totally wrong. Today I did another one, but this time in a group, together with other apprentices and mentors. As the matter of fact, what appeared to be a short one hour meeting, actually started a lot of threads in my head, that are running all over the place at the moment. So perhaps this blog post is a good way to join them together.

The word that was kind of a light motive of today’s retrospective was confidence. I haven’t realized how much this issue has actually affected all of us since the apprenticeship started. How it stopped us from using our time as apprentices in - I won’t say proper - but better way. How the fear of not being good enough prevented us from getting out there and exposing ourselves more to what software engineering in practice actually is. Which is, after all, why we joined this apprenticeship program in the first place. In my case, the realization of this hit a little too close to home.

Everyone that knows me well also knows that I’ve faced a lot of confidence issues in my life. Even when I had no reason to. Even when I actually was good enough. It’s something that constantly haunts me and doesn’t really want to let me go, nor allow me to reach my full potential. As with facing fears, I’ve found my way of dealing with this: I just do what I’m good at. Or rather: I do things in the way that I’m good at. Which is, of course, not always the right way.

I see now that I’ve done that thing again during this apprenticeship. I guess I looked at it as if it was just another semester at the University. I equipped myself with a bunch of books that have never failed me so far, and did what I always do when in doubt - studied hard. But I guess, by doing that, I totally missed the mark. I was basically trying to make up for my lack of practical knowledge by doing the very same thing that created that problem in the first place. And all that happened because I was too unconfident to try anything else! It happened because I was too aware of my lack of experience, and - as a result - too scared of failure.

Actually, I now think that my way of looking at the problem was all wrong. Or, rather, that I was looking at the wrong problem all along. In any case, my issue was not a lack of practical knowledge. That was just a consequence that stemmed from something bigger and deeper.

The Root

But enough is enough. It’s time for me to open this can of worms that I’ve kept hidden in some corner of my soul for so long. In all honesty, it feels good to finally say it (or rather, write it). It’s as if this huge burden fell of my shoulders, with just that one sentence.

However, to tell you the truth, I have no idea how to do this. This time the books won’t help me, I guess. But maybe this apprenticeship is about finding an answer to that question. Maybe it’s not so much about mastering the famous six categories or filling my head to the top with knowledge. That will eventually come too, of course. When I am ready and the time is right.

Nevertheless, if after six months I can honestly say that I’ve finally started to believe in myself, as I should have done all along - that would be enough of a victory.