I finally get it. I thought I understood the importance of side projects, but I didn’t. I thought that side projects were a way to try out new things or solve my problems, you know, scratch my own itch. That’s wrong. If you work for someone else, side projects are vital to your sanity. You need them to stay current.
Side projects are a perfect place to start from scratch. A blank canvas. A clean slate. A fresh start. I can choose to use anything I want. Mongo, Rails 3.1 and the asset pipeline, Backbone, etc. Anything.
That’s not the case when you work for someone. It’s often just a job and you’re constrained to what’s there. They decide what you use, how it should be built, and if you’re lucky, you get to express some creativity. Often times, there isn’t room for creativity. You just have to stick with what is there.
It sucks, but that’s part of the game. If this sounds sour, well, it is. Recently, I have been disappointed time after time. Just when I think I get to add something to a project, I hit a brick wall. It’s been done, or there is some facet of the application that I was unaware of. That makes it almost impossible to get geeked up for work.
Will I regret airing my dirty laundry for the world see? Most likely, but it feels good to get it off my chest and the next time I foolishly think a project will be fun, exciting, and challenging, I have a place to go that will bring me back to reality.