A letter to the developer who knew too much

Published July 14, 2019

Dear [redacted],

When we first crossed paths I was able to claim a few years of experience in this crazy world of software development. That was just enough time for me to be insecure and competitive.

You had more years, and yet, you were not.

Instead you were humble, perhaps introverted, quiet at times — a rarity in an environment where people seemed to bask in their own voices. You'd survey the landscape in your deliberate way, and though it was probably tempting to weep amidst the decay and shoddy workmanship you witnessed, you were always diplomatic in your efforts to steer us toward a healthier state.

That didn't make some of us any more kind or receptive to you. Sometimes a few of us would discard your guidance because we had momentum in our corner. There were times when my ultimate goal was just to push something through, just to show I could stand taller than you and your sage advice. I had to do it because you were always — ALWAYS — right. And I resented it.

I'm writing this letter because, all these years later, I understand how foolish I was. You were a brilliant developer with a steady command, and if I'd set aside my insufferable ego and embraced your wisdom I'd be further along and far better for it.

What led me to this realization over the years was a stroke of poetic justice. I've found myself in situations where I'm suddenly the surveyor, the one who's found danger and decay, the one who's tried to delicately offer guidance only to be dismissed. I've seen the smirks and eyerolls when I attempt explanations, and though I'm quite confident in my experience and intentions, it doesn't make their reactions hurt any less.

Back in the day, it wasn't obvious if our reactions were similarly hurtful or frustrating to you. Either way, I owe you the most sincere apology for not fully appreciating what you knew, and more importantly, not recognizing how you were trying to elevate those around you.

It took me years to come around, but it seems you broke through and taught me an invaluable lesson after all. Thank you.

With gratitude,

Darren Mart