Week 2 — General Assembly NYC

Another week at General Assembly and another week of excitement, doubt, confusion, and many more emotions, all rolled into one. My instructors drew a curve on the whiteboard on the first day of class and explained that durning this 12-week coding bootcamp, our (the students) emotions and overall morale would ride this curve many times like a rollercoaster. At that time, I laughed it off, thinking it was just something they “had” to say to make the students not feel too pressured and not have them worry if they ever get to that low of a point.

Boy was I wrong. They were absolutely right. I have been riding that curve constantly, even cycling through the whole process in one day. One moment I feel like I can code anything that comes to my mind, then the next moment I feel like my 2-year-old niece can develop a website better than me. This week though, I unfortunately have been riding the lower portion of that curve for the majority of my time. “Frustration” and “aggravation” are definitely two words that can be used to sum up my second week at GA — NYC. While I definitely had some high moments, such as understanding flex-boxes really well and also drastically improving my CSS skills as a whole, the major thing standing in my way was my arch-nemesis…Javascript. It’s the same story everyday. I sit during a lecture on whatever that day’s topic is, I understand everything being presented to me, then, however, I am given a problem to solve on my own and I suddenly just have no clue what to even do. It seems I do not know how to take what I learned during lectures and apply them to actual problems I am given. I like to remain optimistic and hopeful though. I have confidence and I believe if I just keep at it with my studying & researching on the specific topics I struggle with, I will slowly get the ball rolling and in the end it will all come together. An article I’ve read recently talks about a few simple tricks to help a person be able to understand Javascript faster.

It was a rather quick read, but a good one, and it was able to ease my mind a bit and made me take a step back from my usual routine. The article talks about 6 mind tricks to help one learn JS faster. There were 2 tricks that I found to be really helpful. One of the tricks it mentions is to “not let confidence trick you into forgetting things”. Here is a snippet of the author’s point:

“When you read something and it makes sense, it can be tempting to move on to the next thing immediately. Maybe you’ll understand the next thing and then move on again. But soon, you’ll arrive at a point where you realize you’ve forgotten some of the previous things you’ve learned, so you need to go back. You give the previous concepts a quick glance to refresh your memory and then move on again. But now you’ve forgotten something else. You keep repeating this back-and-forth dance until you get to a point where you realize you’re completely lost. You get discouraged, take a break, and then when you try to come back, you’ve forgotten everything.”

I totally understand what he is saying. I think this is a big reason why I am currently struggling in JS. For example, I learn about for loops one day in class, I totally understand it and its purpose. We then move on to arrays and objects, which again in class I totally understand it and its purpose. But then the time comes when I need to solve a problem, like removing duplicate values in an array, and I don’t really know how to do anything. I don’t know how to combine my knowledge of arrays and for loops to implement them into solving the problem. It’s like I suddenly forget everything I know and forget how to go about solving a problem. This then makes me become frustrated and doubt myself even more, and suddenly my morale is just starts falling rapidly. It’s a vicious cycle. Another one of his tricks is to “approach practice with the right mindset”. He goes on to claim that:

“When you learn something new in JavaScript, try treating it like a new toy, a new car, a new pair of shoes, or whatever it is that you’d have fun trying out. Then don’t practice like you’re working, practice like you’re playing. Do something cool with your new skills. Surprise yourself. Show your friends.”

I just found this interesting because it seems like a cool idea. Instead of solving “normal” problems first, I should try to tailor the problem to make it more fun and interesting for me and maybe that way it’d be easier to grasp the way of finding the solution. After I do this enough times and start to really understand the specific topic at hand, then I could go back and re-try those “normal” problems and see if I am now equipped to solve them. Javascript is something I really, REALLY want to understand and be able to use with a lot of confidence. Struggling with it this early on in the course does make me doubt myself since the material will only get more complex from here, but I also know that too much of this negativity will hinder any chance I have of actually improving my understanding of it. I need to find some middle ground where I haven’t completely lost all hope and faith in myself, while also not being completely carefree and simply believing I’ll “eventually” understand it, because I certainly won’t.

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