I was talking to my wife today about how my friend wants to give me a thorough crash-course on programming so I can help him start a business that we both came up with one night while drunk off of insomnia and soy milk. I said I’d be up for learning programming, but that I was wondering how long would it take me to be able to contribute.
“What?” he asked.
“How will I know when I can program? Do I have to study for like, six months or something?”
He looked at me quizzically. “You’ll know you can do it when you can do it.”
“But how long will that take?”
By now, he’s laughing amusedly. “As long as it takes.”
My wife at this point is just shaking her head. “What kind of question is that? ‘How will I know when I can do it?’ What’s wrong with you?”
“It’s not my fault,” I protest. “I’ve been in academia too long. Your performance and skill is based less on what you can actually do, but on what requirements you’ve filled, which classes you’ve taken, which tests you’ve passed, which certifications you’ve earned.”
To be honest, I’ve been in academia for so long that I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be graded simply on what you know rather than on a curve in comparison with everyone else. What I can do is not relative to what my classmates can and can’t do. I compete only with myself.
This is weirding me out to the max. I tell my wife that.
“You can be so pathetic sometimes,” she says, rolling her eyes.