Monday, May 16, 2011

So, what am I, exactly?

Lately I have struggled to find a good answer to the question "So, what are you?". When I was a kid, nobody asked me that - I was just a kid. At the most, they'd ask me what grade I was in, and that was easy. Then, in my first (and only) job at Google, when people asked me that, I could answer with my job title. But now that I'm not a kid or a Google employee, I'm not quite sure what I am.

My standard response has been "web developer." I do web development, I go to all the web development events, and all the people I helped as a Googler were web developers. But I'm not convinced, and I become less convinced the more I am approached by people looking for "web developers" thinking that I fit the bill. I know this doesn't bode well for my job opportunities in the future, but I don't think I'm actually a "web developer", at least not the kind they are looking for.

See, when I do web development, I do it because it is the best way that I know to turn an idea into something tangible; I don't do it purely for the joy of programming. I don't dream of spending all day coding, I dream instead of making things that I enjoy, and maybe a few others too. In fact, I don't think I would be happy spending all day programming for months on end; I like too many other aspects of making things. I want to write about them, I want to brainstorm them, I want to tell the world about them. I want to spend equal parts of my life using the different parts of my brain, and I want to be able to share creations with the world as a result of that synergy.

Why does it matter what I am, anyway? Well, first, I need an answer for all the people that I meet now, who want to be able to fit me into a nice bucket in their head. But, second, I need to figure out what I'm doing next in life. If I am a web developer, then I should probably join a new company, learn more web skills, and increase my knowledge there. But if I am not - and I suspect as much - maybe I should be picking a different path. I have done many side projects, and now it might be time for me to pick an idea and make it my main project, to see how far I can take it and how many people I can share it with. Or, put in the more usual terms of today's web world, perhaps I should become a (co-)founder.

I am not 100% sure of this - part of me is worried that I don't have the focus to pick one idea and stay with it, part of me is worried that I'll pick the wrong idea, and part of me is worried that I'm not business-oriented enough to make something profitable. But the other part of me thinks that I should find out or I risk spending the rest of my life wondering.

No comments: