The One where I'm Back (For a Bit)

It’s been almost 2 years since I was kicked off my old team. Last year I wrote that I still don’t fully understand what happened. I do now. Time has passed and wounds have healed. I’m on fantastic terms with the two guys that I admired so much (and still do). And I’ve landed in a great team with some amazing people who have helped me learn and grow so much during these past years.

But recently I have felt a bit stuck. Things were moving too slowly for my liking and I had an abundance of energy that I felt was a bit too much for the people around me sometimes. I became a bit frustrated and thought about what I could do to get unstuck.

Team Exchange to the rescue! Last year, we had one of the guys from my old team join our team for a week. This time, I joined my old team for 2 weeks. There’s actually only one person who was there two years ago and is still in this team (the other one of my two mentors, not the one who was my exchange intern last year), but it’s still my old team, the same product they are building, the same projects that I wrote my first bits of production code in.

And it was amazing. They accepted me into their team as if I had never been gone. I took part in all meetings, even their retrospective, I was invited to all the Slack channels they use for communicating between themselves and with others, and they helped me set up my environment perfectly for being able to take over in mobbing sessions.

And it was weird. I am used to seeing code that doesn’t fit into the current architecture/style of the project I’m working in, but this is never my code. I’ve only been in my current team for 2 years, so the weird-looking, ancient code was written by someone else. These past few weeks, I saw so much weird code that I had written. So cool to come across “stupid-old me” for the first time in my professional programming experience.

And it was illuminating. I learned so much. About Elixir, Functional Programming, my editor, setting up a mix environment, using docker for the rabbitmq dependency, git things, useful shortcuts, the downfalls of a compiled language. And I think they learned a bit from me as well, mostly about the business side of things. But I did have a really funny moment, when my former mentor told me something wrong and my brain had the correct syntax stored somewhere in my subconscious and I surprised us both by typing the correct Elixir code.

And it was exhausting. I forgot how much more complex their business logic and their code is. It was really interesting to see how much more stuff they have to do and think of. And I forgot how much energy it actually costs to do pair and mob programming. We don’t do this often in our team, and I would like to do it more, because I have once again seen the benefits. But I do realise that it takes a lot of mental effort to do this every day for most of the day.

And it was reassuring. I know that I sometimes talk too much and too soon. And I’m now in this weird state where I often try not to say anything but then I can’t stop myself because I really do think that what I want to say could be important but I’m so afraid of someone thinking I’m aggressive or don’t know my place (as a relative junior) that I’m constantly censoring myself but not really and this is so so draining. And I got incredibly positive feedback for all the things I’m sometimes worried about. For taking the lead, managing conversations, organising what’s to do and how best to do it and sharing my view as an outsider.

I’m back to my team next week and I’m excited about this. I have realised that I do feel quite at home in our code now. I really know the product well and I can find the answer to almost any question very quickly. And I do appreciate the calm and quiet and relative structuredness in our team more that I did before. But I’ll continue to see at least the devs from my exchange team a lot. I had been a permanent member of their mobbing call room even before this team exchange, for a bit of an office feeling at home, and I will continue to make use of the standing invitation to join them whenever I want. They are awesome.

And I think I have found some things that I can put my unused energy into if I feel like my normal work doesn’t quite cut it at the moment. And I do intent to blog about this. Hehe. We’ll see.