JJ Ashcraft

@jjashcraft

I want to become a web developer, but I'm afraid to switch careers…help!

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

Come along with me on a journey.

When I was three, my family was involved in a tragic car accident that resulted in the death of my younger brother Tony. We were traveling down a highway in rural Florida, when a drunk driver crossed the double yellows.

No time to brake.

No horns.

Just screaming.

Our little red sedan was smashed and spinning across the highway. My dad was bleeding and badly injured, and trying to get to my brother. My mom was screaming in agony as she opened her eyes to the wreckage around her.

Our family was devastated…it’s the kind of memory that never goes away. Tragic experiences early in life can mold us in ways we might not fully understand for decades. In my case, I had a problem with fear.

I grew up afraid of death — and anything I could relate to it.

So afraid, that I would never forget to tell my parents I loved them before bed, for nearly a decade.

This included heights, cars, airplanes, bridges and many other things. Up until a few years ago, I didn’t realize that I avoided the left rear seat anytime we left for a road trip. The seat my brother died in.

Many of those fears didn’t relate to any experience I personally had. My imagination had other plans, even when I tried to be brave. These irrational fears led to jealousy of other kids riding roller-coasters, playing sports and doing what they loved without fear of getting hurt.

It was so hard.

Before exposure therapy really became mainstream, my dad convinced me to go bungee jumping, in an attempt to shake me from my problem with fear.

When I was twelve.

We were in Orlando, where strobing lights, speedy rides and special effects ruled the day. We were 75 feet up on a tower that flexed with the slightest breeze, and I was freaking out.

Glued to the top of the bungee tower , I was crippled by fear and sensory overloaded. Why did I put myself in this situation?

  • I wanted to jump.
  • I wanted to prove to my dad that I could do it.
  • Most of all, I just wanted to be brave for myself, one time.

I looked over the edge and knew I had a choice. It was now or never.
It was this moment when I remembered what fun felt like again.

The Big Takeaway: If you are ready to make a career change to web dev, don’t be crippled by your fear.

The reason you are afraid to make the change might be simple…things are working right now, and you don’t want to screw it up. In this case, your comfort zone is your worst enemy. Comfort zones are like quicksand…the longer you wait to make a move, the more difficult it becomes to get out.

Maybe you have a great career already, but you are bored out of your mind or your current job makes you feel lifeless.

Maybe you are afraid of chasing another pipe dream, where you leave your dead-end job and actually do something you enjoy.

Maybe you are questioning the time or money it will take for you to make the jump.

It’s time to make the jump.

This is your now or never.

Are you ready to jump?

Are you ready to prove to yourself, that you can do this?

Are you ready to be brave, for yourself?

Web development is not an industry for those just looking at a great career path. First, you must figure out if you enjoy the work. Skip this step, and you will burn out just looking at the basics of what you need to learn to become a full-stack developer. You have to want it bad enough, and be willing to put in the time. Learning to code requires lots of practice.

But it’s worth it.

Don’t let anyone convince you that it’s a missed opportunity. The tech industry is changing at a rapid pace; some of the job titles available today didn’t exist five years ago. If you want to make the change, don’t wait.

  • Start with FreeCodeCamp…see if you enjoy it.
  • Wake up at 3am and do a few problems on CodeWars…see if you still enjoy it.

Make attempts at problems you don’t think you are ready to solve, and exercise your google-fu to find the answers. This is what we do every day. Some of my best moments at Lambda School so far have involved overcoming the struggles of learning something incredibly complicated…and then seeing how much easier that part is for me several weeks later.

After a month or two, if the problem-solving aspect is something you enjoy…it’s time to figure out a plan of action. Can you afford to work part-time for six months, or better yet, do you have a support system so you can dedicate the time to learning? If so, you should start by looking into Lambda School.

Above all else, make sure you are having fun with the process. As adults, many of us have forgotten what it feels like to have fun in the moment. Embrace the struggles and challenges.

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths. — Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Your mind might flash to all of your responsibilities. You might try to justify that as an adult, you can’t afford to take the risk of a career change. Especially if it is a totally new field for you.

Stop it.

Think of it this way:

As a child, you didn’t know what to be afraid of until something bad happened, even if your parents warned you. As adults, most of us try to avoid risky situations because of how we were raised. There is no education or class for adults on how to balance risk. We back away from the edge, instead of leaping over it. When you encounter this feeling as an adult, you have to leap for yourself. That’s the point where fun must overcome fear. In your case, the fun must overcome the fear of getting started in a new web development career.

Now go have some fun, and learn something new today.

Sign up below for some seriously good career advice below…this is tried and test material. I’ll tell you what worked for me, and what didn’t.

When you are ready: Follow me on Twitter, and read more of my stories on Medium here.

JJ Ashcraft is a graduate of Lambda School’s Immersive Web Development program. He spends his free time skydiving, writing articles and traveling the world. JJ is a Software Engineer at Echobind, a full-service agency bringing together the best web and mobile experts to work on your project. Feel free to check out the playbook and the team’s fact sheet to get more info on what Echobind can do for you.

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