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…



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