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Hello wonderful serverfault people,

I've been spending quite some time fumbling through a variety of sources trying to find some advice related to my own situation. At first I didn't feel comfortable enough with the idea of posting my own frustrations and just tried sort of to infer advice from other people's posts and situations. This however did not prove to be as helpful as I wanted. So, without wasting any more of your precious time, here's my situation in brief bullet points

  • I'm into Linux roughly since 1998 (Slackware 3.5) and online since 1995 (BBS, etc). I've started really early with computers (tender age of 12). I believe I have a well-rounded view and a deep technical "confidence" that I can mostly work out on y own, anything one throws me at, provided I have enough documentation (some times even without that)

  • Around 2004 I burn-out, seriously thinking of ditching computers and learning ceramics or something. I basically spend one year just staring at the ceiling.

  • At around 2006 I seem to have completely recovered and find myself a "proper" IT job again. Around 2007 I find the inspiration to enroll in a distance-learning Bsc program, (for all the wrong reasons mind you, but we won't go there). I work 12+ hours mostly everyday plus some weekends in my job where I basically stagnate while tending a monstrous mishmash of Tomcat servers and manually copying software patches.

  • At around 2008 I burn out again and decide to return to my folks place to pursue full-time the degree so to get done with it faster. I basically spend 4 years in AI, neural networks, math, Java, etc, alone in my bedroom eating my hair out. At some point that time, the economic crisis hits (I'm in Greece).

    The current situation is that while I'm more developed as a person, the degree widened my breadth and left me feeling way more stressed than before (as in knowing now how much I don't know, and all the cool things I "sort of" now know which I could do if I would only decide and specialize). I was a jack-of-all-trades person, and now its worse!

I'm also feeling way obsolete and out of the bandwagon. My Linux knowledge although sound is very easily trumped by 20 year old (I'm 34) students who are into opensource and Linux way more passionately than I am and spend like 18 hours a day tinkering with it. Additionally, I never did get that much of an "enterprise" work experience with data centers and storage and stuff which basically rules me out of many UNIX-centric jobs out there.

So my question is, where do I go from here? I can write modest code in Java and my IT skills are not that rusty, maybe just need a little brushing up on particular areas. But even if I brush them up, the feeling of being obsolete does not go away as it does when you're actually working at a company.

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closed as off topic by Zoredache, Tim Brigham, jscott, Shane Madden, Khaled May 23 '12 at 7:31

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Seems like IT people are especially prone to Impostor Syndrome. Hang in there. When those punkass 20 year olds try to build a production network on Gentoo and Devops "BECAUSE CFLAGS AND RUBY!!" they'll hire you to clean up the mess. –  Wesley May 22 '12 at 23:00
Yeah, I'm very well aware of that syndrome. Thanks for the love Wesley =) –  gfountis May 22 '12 at 23:08
The skills you list could put many of the people on the site to shame. Myself included. I think the problem is largely your perception, rather than those around you. You feel like you're trumped by those 20 year olds. But are you really? Have they seen the kernel develop like you have? You've got shell scripts older than them. You can't tinker your way into that realm, no matter how many hours a day you spend on it. Check my profile, add me on Twitter, email me, hit my blog - whatever. Keep in touch. You're not decrepit yet. =) –  Wesley May 22 '12 at 23:11
Yep. My output at early 20s was phenomenal. I did not understand the cost of having to maintain stuff through production back then. Many (computer and other) games define higher level by more resource constraints to deal with, and skill by dealing with them. I would say a senior role is defined less by being greater at tech than by not completely sucking at the >50% of it that is management anyway since systems rarely do exists without users, customers and vendors. I have been in it for a couple years and often all I can give people here is debugging advice and caveats not solutions. –  rackandboneman May 23 '12 at 1:09

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