A Heart Tremor

A Heart Tremor

And a timely response to my SOS.

Have you ever felt lost, alone and confused; moving, but without the slightest sense of direction, living, but without the mildest hint of purpose, trying, with not the faintest shadow of hope? Tired. Disillusioned. Scared. Like a sailor lost at sea; off course and in desperate need of salvation. Dreading what might happen if it does not come. Already picturing the tiger sharks and the feast they will have out of you if your distress signal goes unanswered one more time. This is how I felt three months ago.

For over a year, I had been learning, learning and learning, but never once felt confident in my skills. Every time I was excited about learning something new, I'd realise or remember how much I still didn't know. I would never dare call or even consider myself a developer; I'm not sure I could now, but I have learnt that doubt is quite natural in the learning process which is in itself never-ending. And, it is easy to drown in the sea of all the information available, I know I did.

More than anything, I needed to be rescued from it and guided through a path, any path, with a clear destination. Dozens of distress calls later in the form of applications to schools, tech bootcamps, several scholarship and mentorship programs, and even jobs, and a rescue ship in the shape of Tremor found me. Aboard the USS Tremor were not one, but three gallant Navy SEALs to save me from my capsizing boat adrift with uncertainty- CAPT Heinz, ADM Darach and CDR Matthias. Bless their hearts. I still can't believe my luck. Halfway into the program and doubly excited, I reckon there couldn't be a better time to write all about it, could there?

A month and a half ago, I was selected for the LFX Summer Mentorship program as a mentee for Tremor, which is a CNCF sandbox project. My project involves redesigning Tremor's website, "making its web presence awesome". I cannot express my excitement upon receiving the news of my acceptance into the program; I can, however, express how scared and anxious I was about my first meeting with my mentors. I have never been good at meeting new people, let alone people I am greatly impressed by, and dying to impress. I had spent the whole night reading about Tremor and open-source development, and was confused as ever. I'm surprised any words came out of my mouth during that meeting; I'd be more surprised if any of those words made any sense, but I don't want to find out. Luckily, my mentors were so cool and easy-going- and funny. So funny- that by the end of it, I felt silly for having worried so much. But that's what happens when you care, right? ;)

Aside from his insistence on the importance of avid note-taking, which I have found to be incredibly useful, Darach kept reassuring me that I need not worry for worry is a useless emotion that solves nothing, and this made me realise that I was overly fretting about everything I didn't know about Tremor and open-source, forgetting that that was exactly what the mentorship was for: to teach me as much as possible about Tremor and open-source. And, boy, haven't I learnt a lot! Occasionally, I will be spewing out some of the knowledge, wisdom, tricks, tools... all the invaluable lessons I have picked up and will continue picking up during my other-worldly experience at Tremor. Prepare your nets or buckets- I hope it will make you better and as happy as it has me!

Worry is a useless emotion. Darach, 2021.

One of the most remarkable things I have experienced at Tremor is freedom. Freedom to to try things out on my own and work out a way to best deal with problems or situations. My mentors might offer suggestions here and there, but never demands. There are hardly any hard-line tasks that I ought to complete in a strictly particular way by a strictly particular time- more of assignments that I should go forth and figure out how to go about. For me, this is always a happy cruise down the river of curiosity; a welcome chance for exploration and discovery. Furthermore, my sometimes different perspective- seeing as I do not have have a background in tech, and am from a different part of the world from other members of the team (Kenya)- is always appreciated; my opinions actually matter! This often gives me some sense of choice and control over how the project progresses. And with great power comes great responsibility, as a wise superhero once elegantly asserted. So, I have to be proactive and accountable in my work. But I respond best to an environment like this, so it's not a problem for me.

Another thing I like about my mentorship at Tremor is the focus on learning rather than just getting work done. But again, when you get a firm grasp of concepts, you are in a better position to do more meaningful work, no? I can still hear Heinz's voice, "If, after your mentorship, you haven't learnt anything and haven't had any fun, then we will have failed as a team. And that is the only scenario we would consider a failure. What are the chances of that happening?"

None, I can tell you right now for sure, Heinz, for I have learnt so much- from how to make good pull requests to opening good tickets or issues on GitHub; Git and all (well, many) of its wonders and complexities; tools that have made my life significantly easier (Hello Vim!); how to network and why I ought to do it; how to spot opportunities, and how to make sound decisions after taking all relevant criteria as well as people involved (e.g. users, community, etc.) into consideration. I have learnt that the best solution is not always the right solution. As developers, we might often be tempted to go with the technically best solution to a problem; we may, however, need to reconsider it in favour of a solution that would be right for the situation, after taking all relevant factors into account.

The most important lesson, by far, that I have learnt so far is humanity in our work- courtesy and respect in our interaction with other people. This can be demonstrated from the way we write pull requests or issues on GitHub, for example, to the way we treat each other in our various communities. It is always important to remember that people are more important than software, and they ought to be treated as such. This, and other lessons, has motivated me to be more cautious in my delivery especially over the internet where certain verbal cues present in one-on-one interactions may lack; to strive day by day to be a better and more considerate human being in the tech universe, and particularly in the open-source galaxy.

People are more important than software. Heinz, 2021.

I have always longed to belong, but haven't had much luck in the past. I have felt out of place almost everywhere I have been. But Tremor has given me a chance to be a part of a community; a great community on Discord that is welcoming and inclusive, and fun in a way that makes you want to stay. And stay I will (duh!), because why on earth would I want to leave?


You might want to check out: