Your Brain Reshapes Itself to Adapt to New Things (e.g. Coding)

Claudia MH Ahn
4 min readJan 26, 2020
Brain structure and plasticity

I’m not a scientist - or a highly-experienced coder, yet - so I can’t explain how our brain actually reshapes itself to adapt to new things, in regards to the particular process. But I’m going to tell you how my recent personal experiences have shown me such an amazing brain transformation during my current career transition and the process of creating my most recent website.

I’m currently enrolled in Juno Technology of Institute’s Full-Time Web Development Immersive Bootcamp, and my first project of the program involved using floats (no flexbox allowed, which freaked me out a little in the beginning) to make a responsive website. While making this website, centering elements (while trying to succeed without using positioning or margins/paddings at all, for the sake of the responsiveness of the website) was the biggest challenge for me. Since I wasn’t so familiar with using floats, it felt more difficult to center things both horizontally and vertically - compared to when I would use flexbox.

Because of all the layers of a number of divs and other specific factors that may have affected the situation, simply text-aligning or making ‘margin: 0 auto’ didn’t seem to do the job in some cases. When it happened, I had to go back and check whether I needed to set the width of a particular element to 100% or sometimes to more static sizes in pixels. Or, I even had to create an additional parental div to center the child element depending on the situation. Well, at least, these were my findings based on my research, thinking, and a little bit of analysis. Of course, I would be more than happy to hear from experts and learn, if there are other simpler solutions that could’ve made my “floating life” a lot easier to handle.

In the end, I truly thought this was a nice opportunity for me to make - or even force (sometimes I felt that way!) - myself (to) do something I was not used to, like using floats. And I actually learned that once I get the hang of something that I would’ve never thought I would do in my career (because, you know, the modern web dev world tells me using floats for layout purposes is not the greatest idea), I can build something real that also looks pretty good.

I actually started to feel like my brain system had been switched a little. Come to think of it, I may get similar uncomfortable feelings when I switch back to using flexbox for my layouts because I sort of started to like floats and I now naturally think of floating my elements when I need to change the layout. It clearly shows how quickly my brain has adjusted itself to allow me to comfortably use floats after making a one-page responsive website. Isn’t this so amazing?

How fast new circumstances can reshape human brain just fascinates me. In this particular case, it was about using floats, but in a larger sense, we’re talking about this huge career change I’m making now. It feels very exciting and sometimes even kind of (positively) shocking that I already am thinking like a web developer only after several months of introducing myself to this wild web development world.

For example, some keywords that I’ve been using daily my whole career ‘feel’ different to me now. While my academic and professional background is business and fashion, I used to say “margin” to mean ‘what we earn from selling our products to customers.’ Well, now, when I say “margin,” I mean a totally different thing. I mean ‘space around my elements outside of the borders I’ve defined’.

Also, when looking at random ad posters walking around, I used to focus on the products (mainly the designs, especially when they were fashion items). However, now, I think about how I would structure my html syntax to build the designs from scratch. So, I would think, ‘That middle part is my main, and those little icons would be my li’s.’

These little changes I notice every day let me believe that I am actually becoming a web developer, whose brain functions like one. I’ve always believed coding is somebody else’s thing, and it was something I’ve been admiring for so long, but that was it. I just couldn’t think that I’d be able to do it myself, just like drawing (trust me, I can’t draw, like, I mean it). But who would’ve known? Here I am, sitting or laying down, coding, basically all day - almost every day. And I’m sincerely enjoying the whole process of learning new web development concepts during the day and working on my assignments and projects in the evening. I love the fact that I’m being able to pursue my dream and at the same time feel confident I will be able to enjoy this long journey of having a completely different career - thanks to the plasticity of my brain that’s reshaping my way of thinking, quite amazingly.



Claudia MH Ahn

Web Developer. Master of Business, Entrepreneurship & Tech-UWaterloo. ︎TOR•NYC•Seoul.