Laid Off But Leveled Up, Lessons Learned
I noticed something since picking up this freelance project, something I never had, ever, since the day my journey as a dev began:
I have confidence.
This was huge: before I landed my first job, I had been years into this and still couldn't figure out algorithms without much help and it was super deflating, frustrating. I got hired and got thrown right into the fire almost immediately.
I liked to say in some of my first intro videos on podcasts and my old Squarespace portfolio I could learn on my feet which just wasn't true, not for this profession. Getting the job I had, seeing the blank editor and not knowing what in the world I was doing, on a deadline, scared me. I had anxiety quite often1. I still had to perform. I had issues with that, but eventually I learned that, no I didn't need to write a UI from scratch, there were libraries. I learned what the Web Developer Chrome Extension (opens in a new tab) actually did besides give me responsive layouts2. I learned how to actually use the Chrome DevTools and Inspect Element dialogue to debug issues. I learned how to think. I learned to lean on my team. I learned how to dive into a codebase and get started on it without thinking too much about it, which is helping me in my current project.
I made mistakes at my [REDACTED]. I honestly did. Some things were difficult because I was a junior engineer without much support and working as a government consultant means you aren't given the freedom to fail and get up; things need to be done, you need to be billed. Period. I didn't quite get that and it cost me. But I am on pace in my current project and they are super kind folks that hop in and guide me along.
I can confidently say I am a mid-level frontend engineer for the first time and hot damn does it feel great...