I was that kid in the late 1980s who dreamed in BASIC and who could list you ten reasons why the Commodore family of homecomputers were superior to IBM compatibles out of his head. Once I got my hand on a computer, I almost immediately started to learn how to program. Sure, there were games, but to me, computers were always about getting that grey machine do something new, teaching it to perform new tricks. It was a done deal that I would eventually work with computers for a living eventually… and because of the ideas of the 1990s, obviously I would be immensely rich (because that’s what nerds at that time were supposed to end up as).
So after a phase of “finding my purpose”, I landed a few jobs in IT. A strange thing happened to me - the more I worked with computers in gainful employment, the less I had an interest of spending my free time with them. Instead of programming stuff and learning new things, I got consumed by easily-consumed media, mostly online discussions. That image I had of myself, the geek in me, died eventually under corporate pressure when I was working on a deathmarch project.
I did attend meetups and conferences, but I was merely going through the motions, I was not following up to it. While they gave me the curiosity and energy I felt as a teenager back, after a few days in the treadmill, it all was gone again.
… and rebirth
Right now, I am sitting in front of a 8 year old Thinkpad T520 running Linux with a i3 window manager and a custom keyboard scheme. The system is heavily customized to the point where it and the machine I use at work have very little in common. I realize how much of my life is in this machine - how tasks exist in taskwarrior, how my budgeting works like a charm in beancounter, how the best weather report still comes from wttr.in - there is a simplicity, a certain elegance in it. I have made this machine in my image, and as an answer, it formed me, how I think, how I react to things. And still I chisel things away that are bothering me, still I plaster new functionality into my archive, my calendar, my multitool.
And I realize: this is me - the teenage computer geek - twitching his cold fingers again, slowly being filled with life. Only the heavens know what I can do with that ability. The computer geek in me never will be silenced again.
… and a realization
Never let a job decide what your life should be, and if you need to make your hobby into a job, make sure that your job will not consume you. Learn to separate what you do for money from what you do for fun, especially if the former is highly dependant on interpersonal relationships. In the end, if you take away what you like, you will experience a crushing emptiness, and depression lies down that path.