The first of October. The official start of spooky season. And, if you follow the tech community, the beginning of Hacktoberfest.

Hacktoberfest is an annual event that encourages participation and contribution to open source projects. Sign up during the month of October, make at least 4 valid pull requests in public repos on Github and you can receive stickers and limited edition t-shirt.

I’ve participated in Hacktoberfest for the past 3 years and it can be a lot of fun.

It can also be a lot of work.

This is especially true if you maintain a project. Tag issues with hacktoberfest for visibility and your project will gain traffic and pull requests. Most of them may be considered “spammy”.

Each year, in September (or Preptember) the “get ready for Hacktoberfest”, “who’s looking for contributors” and “101 open source projects for beginners” posts go live, the emails to sign up come in. And it can all be a little overwhelming.

Especially with everything going on in the world right now.

This is why I’ll step in as your internet friend by telling you it is ok not to participate in Hacktoberfest.

Here are two reasons why.

Spare Time is a Luxury

I have a lot of feelings about personal projects and coding outside of work. On one hand, personal projects are good for learning a new skill, or as a side hustle. Any reason that you want to code outside of your 9-5 is valid.

But. Not everyone has the privilege of spare time.

Family commitments, second jobs, whatever. Extra time at a computer isn’t realistic for everyone. And that is ok. There can be pressure, even if it’s from ourselves, to try and do all-of-the-things. But it’s not always possible.

Please be realistic about what is important to you, your career, your family, etc. Be realistic about how much time exists in a day, week, month, etc and what time you can commit to.

Which brings me to my next point.

Self-care > Coding

Coding is a big part of my life. I love it. I do it as part of my job. I code in my spare time and yet…I find myself needing and wanting to spend more time away from the computer.

Perhaps you feel the same way.

As the days get shorter and the longest year of our lives comes to an end…reflect on how you are feeling. If you feel as tired and exhausted as I do. It may be time to focus on self-care, recharging, and coming back refreshed.

Self-care is whatever you need to do to recharge. As developers, I feel like there’s pressure to always be working on something, work/life balance tends to slip and, if you aren’t careful, burnout will set in.

Trust me, time away from a computer will allow you to come back with fresh eyes, a fresh perspective, and ready to pick up where you left off.

Please Take Care of Yourself

The main point I am trying to make here is that you do not have to participate in Hacktoberfest. You are no less of a developer if you sit out this year (or next year, or never participate). Do what you feels right to you and you will not be disappointed.

Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

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