Retreat into Competence is an apprenticeship pattern that focuses on the idea that when you find yourself in a situation where you are overwhelmed with new information, it is alright to withdraw back into something you are more comfortable with. By doing this you allow yourself to gain back your mental composure, and gives you the opportunity to reflect on how far you’ve come as a developer.
I believe this apprenticeship pattern is incredibly true and helpful, as I have frequently found myself in situations where I do not feel confident in my abilities and as a result I get overwhelmed and stop being productive. When I first started my internship last summer, I was expected to use Python as the primary language. Up until that point I only had limited experience with Python, so I had many moments when I felt like I was in over my head with trying to learn a new language and also meet deadlines for the projects I was working on. During those moments I would often get a pretty bad case of imposter syndrome, and start believing that I wasnt good enough for the job. What helped me push through this was a similar technique to what is taught in this apprenticeship pattern. Whenever i felt overwhelmed with a certain aspect of the project, I would go back to a part of that project I felt comfortable with and work to improve on what I already built. By doing this I was able to stop the mental block, and by working on familiar material I felt like I was making progress. This in turn helped me figure out issues I was having with other parts of the project and slowly push through them to finish everything up.
Since I have used this apprenticeship pattern in the past with success, I am almost certain to use it again in the future. Since I just graduated and am about to start my new career, I am sure plenty of situations will pop up where I again feel overwhelmed. When those situations arise, I now have a strategy I know will work, and I can rely on it to help me get through whatever issues might come my way.