I’ve always been an average developer. Not bad, but nothing extraordinary. I worked in some reputable companies, not IT leaders. And I was sure that I could not become someone great because the “average” is my limit — anyone else, but not me. And I still would have this mindset unless one thing happened to me.
How did it start
I was not obsessed with computers when I was a kid, unlike many other current developers. I didn’t learn how to code at 12 years old. I preferred just playing video games. I knew how to install games and use the Internet, which was enough to be the smartest in my school class.
I didn’t dream of becoming a developer and writing the code. I wanted to do something different and more creative—for example, journalism or film directing. But I decided to use my knowledge of computers and become a web developer.
I got a decent education (not from the list of top universities in my country).
I had enough knowledge to get a job in an average company. You know these companies are not bad, they usually have a fancy coffee machine, acceptable development practices, and friendly people, but these companies are not the top tech companies. Not like Google, Uber, Facebook, and so on.
That was fine, and enough for me. I knew that I was not smart to join cool tech companies. I know that I can never solve their interview tasks. I tried to improve it, but that was so boring, and my brain told me: “Just drop it, buddy, we are good without this knowledge.” What is the point of studying these things when dozens of average companies want to hire me?
I changed a few companies, but I moved from one average company to another. I tried to interview some big companies, and I failed so badly. My mind made good excuses for me. That is not me who was not prepared enough, but companies who asked stupid, pointless questions. And that they don’t see how awesome I am.
After a few years, I got a robust solid mindset of “average developer.” I was sure that I would never be suitable for cool companies. Moreover, I didn’t even want to think about working in such companies. I got thousands of different excuses, but the real one was that I was just scared to reveal that my knowledge was not good. And my fear of getting out of my comfort zone.
Whenever I met someone and if they told me: “Hi, I’m working at Uber/Amazon/Facebook/you name it” my first thought was: “Phh, what a nerd!“. Don’t get me wrong; I have nothing against those companies. I was jealous that someone could do it (mostly, people younger than me) but not me. So I masked it with a passive-aggressive form. I wanted everyone to stay with me in our cozy swamp for average people. Why would you ever want to leave it? Nonsense!
Sometimes a brave and naive thought has come to my mind to challenge it by telling: “Hey, you, remember about your ambitions and motivation! You are not the average; you are just lazy!“. I was happy to have this thought, but that was not enough. The army of average ideas quickly beat that naive one.
That was a comfortable, predictable life. I didn’t care about my ambitions. Calm and relax. I was sure that something bright and nice could happen without any effort from my side. Well, maybe not today and not tomorrow. But one day it should happen. Until then, I will rest in my swamp.
And it happened! Not where I expected it. I got a real game-changer in my head. More robust than any average thought in my mind. You know, like a transformer of all these negative thoughts. The supper average thought - a benign tumour in my cerebellum.
I didn’t wake up a new person after the surgery, no. I believe it happens only in movies. But I woke up with the idea: “Hey, Maxim, we finally kicked that toxic guy out! Let’s try to build a better process in our brains!“. What a lovely idea! I just received a new free space in my brain - let’s use it.
I love to think that all ideas that spoiled my mind about being the average person, about my limits were grouped in that one tumour. And it was cut from my brains, once and forever. There is a nice empty place there now, a battlefield, a reminder to all other thoughts and ideas about our time.
I didn’t know where and how to start. How to bring my ambitions alive? Isn’t it too late for that? And most of all - what should I do with my “average developer” label? It’s not that easy to change my behaviour just in one day.
I had struggles and doubts, but at the same time, I was feeling that I’m not feeling like the average person anymore. Yes, I don’t know a lot to be a great person, but finally, I realized that I could achieve almost anything. I should remember my dreams, find them in the backyard of my mind.
At the same time, this experience helped me become honest and stop worrying about things that I cannot control. Is it a change that I can be a new Steve Jobs? No, not. Do I like to pretend and work in an average company? No, I can not handle a fake environment. I want to be a real me, and the tumour was a good slap in the face to start doing it.
The first thing that I started to work on was to fulfill my dream to relocate to another country. As you remember, before my mind was great at making good excuses for anything. So I had the following reason: “I’m not smart, my English is awful, no one abroad will ever hire. Just don’t try”. I started to learn it more, practice more. I applied to different companies abroad - I failed most of the interview processes. But I got something that I was missing - the experience. In 4 months of working on interviewing - I did it.
I need to remark - I’m not trying to overstate my situation. A lot of people go through more complicated things. It was my trigger to step back and rethink my ideas and my beliefs. In a way, I’m thankful for that.
I’m in my 30 years old, and it’s been almost five years since the surgery. I’m still an average developer. I haven’t achieved all my childhood dreams about becoming a journalist or a film director yet. But I don’t have any mind blockers anymore. I didn’t join Uber or Google, but I work in a good company on an excellent product with a fantastic team. I also started to work as a mentor to share my experience and knowledge to people who want to change their professions and become a web-developer. I feel that sharing my experience makes this world just a little bit better despite how naive it sounds.
I regret a bit about the time and all my fake stupid limits. At the same time, I can not say that I lost those years for nothing. I still learned new things, met good people, did a lot of funny and lovely things. But I was blocking my real ambitions and desires.
Don’t be like me.
No one should forget about their real desires. We are - what we are—different humans with different expectations and dreams. There are no labels like “average” or “good enough for champions league.”
I don’t want anyone to experience a tumour to realize it. What I want to say - we are all capable of great things. We are not just average developers and average humans. We all have a limited amount of time - we don’t have time for artificial mind limits. Everyone can achieve what he/she wants to. Try new things, learn new languages, understand how binary trees work, get dream jobs, and impact. But not wasting time by covering it by fake limits like I did. We are not average. We are all amazing.
Thank you for reading!