JavaScript and Me

Posted October 22, 2017 in Thoughts

“Do you know JavaScript?”

That’s a question I have a hard time answering. I mean, yes, I know JavaScript. I’ve been using it for a while now, but until last year or so, I didn’t really know JavaScript, or know how much I didn’t know about JavaScript.

During the first five years of my web development career (I’m on year 6 now), I didn’t really need to know JavaScript like this. As a WordPress and UI developer, I have yet to work on a project that requires me to know JavaScript beyond the select-and-do-something patterns of dear jQuery. I feel embarrassed at having made it this far without understanding event propagation until now. What have I been doing this whole time?!

It was only after all of that FizzBuzz business a couple of years ago that I made a point to really learn JavaScript, somewhat vindictively. All of that learning was and still is on my own time since, in my paid consulting work, a deep knowledge of HTML, CSS, and WordPress make me more money than a deep understanding of JavaScript.

Now though, I have a newfound desire to level-up as a developer – I think a result of taking a long break when I needed one at the end of last year. Learning JavaScript is no longer a chore! I genuinely enjoy writing it and wrangling with it! I constantly surprise myself with what I, the decidedly non-unicorn, can do. I feel more powerful in my same-old HTML/CSS and WordPress ecosystem. I can make better choices for accessibility, I can animate the funny characters I draw, and I’m just starting to delve into the wonders of APIs and component-driven interfaces.

That’s all well and good, but my JavaScript studies are still very much on the side as my paid work still doesn’t involve that much JS. I sneak it in where I can by way of hand-coding modals and the like, but it’s not the challenge I want it to be. That’s one of the big reasons I’m looking for a full-time job; I want that challenge of learning something new because I need to know it, and I’m on the hook if I don’t figure it out. I suppose I work well with that kind of pressure, and in my current freelance practice, I don’t encounter it very often.

Of course, that’s a bit of a catch-22 when it comes to finding a job. I don’t yet have that “advanced JavaScript” skillset that, for better or worse, is required for so many front-end positions. I have “working JavaScript” knowledge…I’m working really hard to get better at it, and I’m looking for opportunities that will support me in that undertaking by both valuing the skills I do have and trusting in my ability to pick up new ones as I need them.

At the end of the day, isn’t our ability to pick up new frameworks more important than the frameworks we already know? I guess I’m banking on Lara’s Dream Employer believing in that.