Psychological Technical Debt

Hello world. 

I’m 27 years old and just finished a boot camp to become an engineer, but my status as a professional hasn’t been consummated by receiving any money for my work. I supposed that makes me an amateur. 

Being a boot camp grad is hard for everyone. There are many companies that just don’t believe our kind are really engineers after only 12 weeks. My peers are amazing though, and it’s unfair that we have to deal with that stigma. That’s not my biggest problem though. Not even close.

My biggest problem is me. I am consistent only in my ability to let myself down. If it weren’t for me, I’d be a really good programmer. I mean I seem to have some aptitude, I’m just really struggling to overcome bad habits, self limiting beliefs and an ass-load of fear. Together, plus some things I haven’t noticed and/or named, these traits make up what I call my “Psychological Technical Debt.”

Donkey with scream emoji and the scream
FYI, that’s a really clever term and I’m extremely proud of myself for that. 

For those not in the field, “technical debt” refers to the work you put off until later. This happens when you settle for code that works but is not the best it can be. It’s like driving on a spare tire, the car moves, but there are “buts.” 

So, psychological technical debt is the self work that you previously avoided by pseudo-coping with your flaws. At some point, you’re going to have to dig into your inner dirt and pull out all the causes by their roots. 

Pulling out the carrots of self-limiting beliefs
Then you can plant something more attractive. I hope. 

I think I may have found a root tonight. Although my conscious mind is 100% invested growth, my subconscious is clinging to a fixed mindset. How can I tell? Evidence slips out when I’m crying at my husband. 

Tonight he told me I need to love myself. 

Me: “it’s like if I told you ‘you just need to fly!’ I don’t even know where to start. It would be easier to love an enemy.”

Also me: “how can I love someone who only ever disappoints me?”

He pointed out that I can change if I work at it. There’s a bit of a chicken and egg problem here. The thing I hate most about myself is my ability to avoid work (often by creating a melt down over how much I hate myself for not working hard enough). Saying that I can change that by working hard is sort of frustrating.

But what if, instead of convincing myself that working is impossible because I don’t work, what if I challenged my core assumption, the way I would if I were debugging? 

What if I can work? 

After all, I made it through boot camp. Someone must have been doing that work. If I accept that thought, I have something to work with.

So I can do work. Actually, looking back on boot camp, I can work hard and proactively if I have a clear task.

I have an objective: become a proud and competent, employed software engineer with lots of money and a side project. But there are too many tasks leading up to that. So I’ll have to prioritize. That sounds like work. Lucky thing we just established I can do work. 

But I need to work consistently. So my working can’t be contingent on the belief that I will reap the rewards, since my subconscious doesn’t believe I will work hard enough to get there.

I need a hopelessness-proof plan…

Haha, I’ll get back to you on that.


10 thoughts on “Psychological Technical Debt

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  1. I truly enjoyed this post and a great ‘scientific’ way to label what many of us face on a day to day. It definitely would take some true brainstorming and plans to find your starting point. But once you’ve found it, there’s no stopping you.

    You most certainly can work, as you’ve stated you just need to prioritize starting with your clear plan. More likely, figuring out your ‘passion project’ and go from there. I honestly believe you will have your ‘a-ha’ moment, creating anything that your heart is leading. I look forward to reading more of your journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My advise would be to take up the project what you like, even if its low paying one take it, first you have to get confidence, then it will free flow… I am a software developer myself, believe me its just a common sense nothing more. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m in the same position with a lot of what I do. I find that attempting to accomplish something without setting clear boundary goals, or an encroaching deadline, that task becomes immensely harder to do. Start off small; you know what you want, so establish the small steps to get there. Others believe in you, so believe in yourself. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi, I went through your post and I see you’re quite discouraged. I’m not sure where are you from exactly, but your post reminded me that in US/Canada it’s pretty hard to get a job as a junior software developer without previous experience. I bet all you think about right now is to find a paid job as a developer, especially that you have a family to take care of.
    There are few things you can do to get that job:
    – start contributing to an open source project. If you don’t work you probably have some time to spare on in. This way you’ll learn how to program real-world applications and build up your portfolio and get an experience you don’t have
    – instead of looking for a full-time developer job start from something small that also includes working on code such as tech evangelist, tester (especially in automation), product manager… eventually look for an intern (I know it doesn’t sound good when you’re not straight from school)
    – learn and put your code on GitHub – it’s also part of your “developer’s portfolio”. Let potential coworkers see how you can code, and don’t worry that you make mistakes etc – you’re learning – the craft will come with time.

    I do believe that after boot camp you may have pretty good skills already. It’s a great base to start and if you are looking for a tech job showing what you can – let people see you.

    I believe you’ll do great so keep your heads up and move on 🙂

    Ps. Thanks for following my blog. If you want to talk or still have some questions don’t hesitate to contact me via contact form on my blog (e-mail) or social media of your preference 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your encouragement. You’re spot on, by the way, I’m both discouraged and American. I’m not sure how to find the open source project that is right for me, so if you have tips on that that would be awesome!
      Also, when I click on your name in this comment it takes me to a blog that isn’t in English (and, shamefully, I’m one of those “only speaks English” Americans lol). I guess you have one in English that I am following but I’m having trouble figuring which blog that is, can you give a hint?


    1. I am lucky in my support system and I’ve had good opportunities. I’m sorry that my post spoke to you, obviously, because I wouldn’t wish this feeling on anyone. Doesn’t seem like it’s stopping you from kicking major butt in your studies though.

      Liked by 1 person

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