Embrace your own process and take a step back to move forward — Coding Bootcamp
Sometimes it is necessary to take two steps back and gain momentum to go much further than we initially imagined.
It’s important to pay attention to your learning process, so you know when you need to take a step back and then get back to the code. Watch lectures again, google fundamentals, get back to the basics, get comfortable with them and then keep moving forward. This process has helped me a lot since I started this coding journey.
There were times when I felt comfortable enough to take more breaks, to step away from the computer for longer, to help my classmates, and times, instead, where I felt myself drowning.
My first week was chaos. A disaster. There were many reasons. The first was that I wasn’t even part of the class group on Slack so I ended up being late for the first day because I had no access to the Zoom link required to attend. Then, we needed to set up our local environment and I had so many issues with setting it up that I wasn’t even able to code for almost three days. I couldn’t practice anything and as a result, I was miles behind everyone else in my cohort but instead of forcing myself to keep up with them when they were sharing their solutions with me, I decided to go all the way back. When I finally set up a suitable environment, I went back to day one instead of planting myself into the day that everyone else was on. It was hard to see everybody ahead of me, learning new things and having extra exercises to practice on the weekends when I was barely learning how to open VS CODE. Ruby who??
When everything seemed like it was finally running smoothly, my computer started to let me down, like turning off by itself. I reached out to my instructor to ask how I could borrow a computer from the school because I had already wasted enough time. I was about to move forward with the decision to put down a deposit to borrow a computer but I ended up getting mine fixed.
I didn’t feel prepared at all for my first code challenge because of the neverending game of catchup it seemed I had been forced to play, and as a result, I was studying nonstop. No video-games. No Netflix. No playtime with my cats. No wine & movie night with my wife. Code. Code. Code. First code-challenge feedback: “Adri you nailed it”.
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.
The whole course was full of ups and downs and I have a blog post that goes into details about this experience.
The second time I needed to step back was when I got my third code challenge feedback. Even though I had received amazing feedback from my instructor when he looked at my code, he told me I would need to retake. I was missing some concepts that were part of the challenge and I had misunderstood some deliverables. I decided to learn from it and kept working on it, so I finished the whole challenge on the very same day. I wrote down details that I thought I had already stored in my mind but I knew it could be important if I forgot at the moment. To be completely honest, when you take a step back you realize that there are so many things to remember but when you’re in the thick of it you don’t see the rest, just what you’re focused on and I would always think to myself “Yeah I can do that!” but at the same time it was also like “How am I supposed to remember all of it?”
I know that since we are at home where no one is watching, we can get help from someone, we can look at labs, we can do whatever it takes to pass, but passing the test in that way would make me feel even worse than failing, and so I did. I failed. The retake was on the same week as the project week, so I knew I would feel overwhelmed and it ended up being probably the most exhausting week of the entire boot camp. I didn’t only study what was going to be on the test, I watched one of the first lectures over again, I watched reviews from other instructors too. I re-did the same lab again and again and again. I needed to understand and to go back to where I would get stuck more often so I would get comfortable with whatever seemed harder to me. All of that while working on my project, which was tiring but it also ended up being a great boost by providing me with extra practice. I saw people dropping out of my cohort when they didn’t pass the second test, and I felt reassured in knowing that if that was to happen to me, at least I had tried everything I could.
Feedback time: I had not only finished the core deliverables but I also finished all the advanced ones.
“Challenge and adversity are meant to help you know who you are. Storms hit your weakness, but unlock your true strength.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart
So here is why I am sharing my worst moments during this boot camp and its good outcomes. Difficulties test you and can set you back, but the roughest roads often lead to the top. If you can listen to what you need to do to overcome anything you face, you will succeed. You are the only person who can hold yourself back.
If I can give you a piece of advice when you are struggling with your code it would be to take a step back and then get back to the code. Trying to move forward on something you still don’t have a strong foundation in will only make things worse. You can’t build on a weak base.
As much as I would love to talk about the easiest parts or the comfortable phases that I tackled, I believe that sharing my struggle might encourage others to keep pushing as well. We all struggled at some point. Nobody takes a course in a subject they have already learned.
I know how hard it is to see people way ahead of you and feel yourself drawing comparisons. I know how everybody wants to be the smart one, the cool one, who doesn’t? But look inside yourself and try to not care about what anybody else thinks of you; ask yourself what do YOU want? Or better yet, what do you need at the moment to get what you want?
Because at the end of the day, you don’t have to prove anything to anyone, you just need to learn and then move forward so you can keep learning. That’s what will give you the job you’ll be searching for. Some things are easier to some and harder to others and that is ok. I saw many classmates in situations where they helped someone and also when they themselves needed help from someone.
Besides all of the challenges that learning how to code brings, we all have families, personal problems, things that do not make anything easier. I know I had my fair share. There were so many things that made it feel like I shouldn’t be doing it or that it wasn’t the right time to do it. But there are always two versions of a story, two ways to look at everything that is going on. Is life telling you that this is not for you or is it asking you how badly you want it?