A Major Milestone

 

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So, I managed to do the impossible and pass a major test in my journey to becoming a full-stack developer. It was only by GOD’s sheer grace that I even passed it. Not by my smarts, or my work ethic, or by any such thing. I am beyond hyped (and relieved). As you can see from the gif above, this is an accurate representation of my current mood. I’m trying to go Super Saiyan on every test from here on out, but I know it won’t be easy. Every assessment makes me feel like it is the 4th quarter in game 7 of the Finals. The pressure is palpable. The stressful cloud hanging over your head each time you take one makes you feel like you might throw up Mom’s spaghetti at any moment…

I was tested on things such as refactoring classes, module mixins, inheritance, schemas, SQL queries,  nested arrays, etc. There’s such a long way to go. Yet, I am trying to re-orient my mind to think more about how far I’ve come instead of thinking how far I have to go. I see more clearly how learning to become a programmer changes you… You really do have to think differently and approach situations with more of a changed perspective than you ever have before. There’s definitely a lot I wanna say right now, but I will leave that for another time. Sometimes, you just gotta appreciate the win, and not take for granted what you have already accomplished. So that’s what I will do. Soak it all in, before it is time to get hit by more haymakers.

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When GitHub Teaches You A Life Lesson

Nothing to CompareSo… some time ago, I found out that I would need to repeat my previous 3 weeks of learning because I did not pass an assessment (which measures your skills and comprehension on all that you have learned thus far). It would be devastating had I not already known going into the exam that I wasn’t passing it, LOL. (I typed “LOL” there even though there’s nothing really, truly funny about it. It’s just that sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying…)

I will be given another assessment really soon, and should I not perform well this time around, I will be asked to leave the program.  I currently feel like Langston Hughes’ “A Dream Deferred” or even better Proverbs 13:12.  I feel as if all of my hope is beginning to dry up. My hopes of getting out of a dead-end job, and out of a crappy NYC apartment, and onto a fulfilling career seems to be slipping further and further from my grasp. I feel like such an underachiever. It feels as if all of the late nights, early mornings, massive hours studying code, whiteboarding, extinction of a social life, loss of sleep, etc. is not paying off and I feel like a huge failure. On top of constantly dealing with “Impostor Syndrome”, I now am tasked with rebuilding the sandcastle (that I just spent 3 weeks building) all over again because the foundation was not good enough. My sandcastle was kicked over by big, bad, bullies like Rspec and code reviews that showed that I had a lot of improvement to do. This means that in addition to this, the stress of surmounting monthly bills (after having left 2 jobs in order to pursue this dream), the constant reminders that come in the mail from the company that I took out a significant loan from (in order to finance this endeavor which could cover the cost of a new car), amongst other pressures is starting to weigh heavier. “Will I do all of this and have nothing to show for it? All of this sacrifice just to find out that I couldn’t “hack it”? (pun definitely intended here…).”  Even as I typed this last line, I seriously considered whether I should put “hack it” in single quotes since I already used double quotes earlier; that’s how much my mind has been inundated with code (my Rubyists will feel me…). It feels like everything is falling apart. I don’t have the financial resources to easily start from scratch again. Doubt is beginning to permeate my emotions. I feel like an intruder who will never belong.

But here is what I have been reminded of this week in the most unexpected of places: GitHub. The photo above was like a reminder to me to stop comparing myself with others. Truthfully, there is no one to compare myself with. My journey is not and will not be the same as anyone else’s. It is unique with its own sets of challenges, setbacks, victories and experiences. It has been said (and very well, I might add) that “comparison is the thief of joy”. There is soooooo much truth to that. Stop comparing. There is no one else in the world like you. You are a unique, specific, special, original, instantiated object, I mean, person (pardon my Ruby speak…). Be encouraged to not compare your journey and set of circumstances to others. It is unhealthy and dangerous. People who are fellow learners with you have such a unique combination of education and experiences that allows them to either grasp/not grasp the material you are now learning. (May I offer you a really great article in general, as well as one that speaks specifically to this exact point? (see tip #1 Hmmm. I wonder why it is #1…))  Maybe they had a head start. Maybe they repeated the phase before you did. Maybe they took online classes already. Maybe they have a Computer Science degree in hand already. The scenarios are endless but the comparisons are not valid.

It is likely, that for the very first time in your life you are training your brain to think like a computer. That is not easy! Be kind to yourself.

But if the saying is true that anything worth having is worth fighting for, then that is exactly what it is going to take: an all-out fight, each and everyday to have the life that you want, regardless of profession or endeavor. So I will dust myself off, and try again. Who knows how long this blog will be around if I fail again? The answer lies in how bad do I want it…

 

I Really Dislike Dirty Sinks

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Pretty nasty, huh? My pet peeve is to have a sink full of gross dishes that pile high all the way to the faucet. Why am I mentioning this? {Thanks for asking!} It’s because this sight is indicative of the demand an intensive coding school placed upon your life has and its effect on virtually everything in your personal, day-to-day life. I have hardly had time to do laundry, pay bills, go grocery shopping, run errands, clean around the house, etc. We haven’t even begun to cover personal relationships and leisure time yet (“leisure”…what does that word even mean? I don’t think that is in my vocabulary anymore….).

The point is that you have to really give your all with this endeavor. It’s not just that there is not enough time to do your daily checklist, it’s that even if you had a spare moment to cross something off of your list, you are so physically tired and mentally drained that you don’t wanna do anything else at all (even this blog post was intended to be written over a week ago). Yet, you are required to keep pushing because if you don’t, you might fall behind. Studying always needs to be done.

There’s code to review. There’s code to refactor. There’s new code to learn.

It’s a non-stop, ongoing thing. Once you are on the train, it does not stop moving until you get to your destination graduation.  This eventually creates this kind of mania in your head because you never really feel at ease or relaxed, especially with major tests/examinations/assessments hanging over your head (more on that later…). It grows into this tension between the need to keep grinding and pushing forward and the need to pay attention to your personal needs of self-care. Like stepping away from the computer, (even when doing so causes you to feel guilty because whatever you choose to do with the time makes you feel that it could have been better spent programming) getting sufficient sleep, thinking about a different subject, getting Vitamin D from the sun because you have spent an insane amount of hours sitting indoors hunched over a computer screen, taking time to dance, a moment to sing in the shower, a chance to enjoy nature and feel the breeze against your skin…all the things we take for granted when we are not singularly devoted to one dense topic that you often can’t even talk to family and/or friends about because they don’t/won’t understand.  It’s been reported that many students begin to even dream code because it takes up so much of their mental energies. You really do eat, sleep, drink code for weeks on end. This leads to letting yourself go. Bad hair days begin to pile up. Your waistline takes a hit because you begin cramming down unwholesome meals because there isn’t any time for shopping or cooking. You just recycle and repeat outfits (hey, it’s not like you are doing anything other than sitting in front of a screen all day anyway).

You have to fight for yourself. For your health. For your sanity.

That’s the reason that there is a pile of dirty dishes in the sink and it’s being connected to this storyline of mine. Maybe the Dish Fairy will hook me up while I’m sleeping and do something like this. Because anyone who knows me knows that this is unacceptable, but alas… I currently don’t have the mental or physical fortitude to put up a fight or to do anything else when I get home accept strip off my clothes, throw them on the floor, and climb into bed all in one smooth, continuous, uninterrupted motion… just to do it all over again in a few more hours in the morning.