Why growing old in tech is hard

👋 Hi Laracon friends. This year, I gave a personal talk about growing old in tech, becoming jaded and depressed, and how I overcame it.

Two emails I received

Initially, I wasn't sure I was going to talk about this on stage in New York. But I received two messages from readers that resonated deeply with me:

First email

I'm 47 and I'm kind of freaked out that I am close to my professional peak. I'm still in the trenches as a senior developer. I'm not a team leader or manager of any kind. I'm coming to that age where it's harder to keep up with the younger devs.

Second email:

The older I get, the more worried I become. It feels like I've been struggling for a long time. It's been one startup failure after another. It feels like everyone is moving ahead whereas I'm being left behind.

This line, in particular, hit me hard: It feels like everyone is moving ahead whereas I'm being left behind.

I've definitely felt that way.

From age 35 on, I felt that more and more.

When Taylor Otwell asked me to speak at Laracon this year, I decided to take a risk.

I wrote a talk about what it was like being in my late 30s; and how I felt I was being left behind.

I showed how those feelings lead to me being jaded, bitter, and depressed.

Then I shared a bit about what helped me overcome those feelings.

Before I gave the talk I was in agony about it. "This is a conference for PHP devs, they don't want to hear this!"

At the beginning of the talk, I was nervous. I said a few things that I wish I'd left out. But as I spoke, I could tell that it was resonating.

After the talk, I had dozens of folks approach me to tell me their stories. They told me: "I've felt that way too."

When the video from the talk was published, I was apprehensive about sharing it too much. It's vulnerable talk. Some of it, I wish I could have changed.

But people kept finding it and saying things like:

So I've decided to share it with you.

You can watch it here on YouTube

If it resonates with you, feel free to comment on the video, or reply to this tweet. I'm happy to chat about it.

Justin Jackson

If you'd like my slides you can download them here.

Published on July 24th, 2019
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