Take a Minute to Look Back at Your Old Code

The rest of my cohort and I just reached the midway point of our dev bootcamp at Viking Code School, and it’s been a wild, time-warping ride up to this point. Living and breathing code 70+ hours a week doesn’t give you a ton of time to reflect, and you’re also progressing alongside the others in your group, so it can be hard at times to see how far you’ve actually come. I stopped and reflected on that this weekend, and I highly suggest it to anyone that’s relatively new to programming. You’re going to realize that all the work that you’re putting in is definitely having an impact even if you don’t see it day by day.

I didn’t start to seriously code until about seven months ago. I had started playing around a few months before that, but that was just the basics. By that time, I knew the very basics of for loops but barely understood the difference between an array and an object. I remember thinking why all the free coding resources kept trying to get me to learn how to create objects. Like why not just use an array for all of it. What are all these developers thinking? Instead of cringing at memories like that, let those early mistakes reassure you that you’ve grown. It’ll help you put your current ones in context.

The first ‘app’ that I built that made me really excited about my progress was a simple, static jQuery page that randomized a deck of Dominion cards from some JSON that I found on GitHub. I had such a hard time even navigating GitHub let alone getting the data I needed out of the JSON and getting my divs to append correctly. I took a look at that code recently and it’s hard to overstate how much it makes me feel better about my progress now. It was ugly. No file structures whatsoever, one giant JS file, append everything everywhere! It might seem embarrassing that I once was proud of that, and it’s definitely embarrassing code, but it’s made me proud again for the progress that I’ve made since that time. It’s far too easy to get lost in what’s happening today or this week to realize that you’re learning and improving so much. Take a minute to look at your old code. You’ll feel much better about where you are today.

Programming forces you to keep learning. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve come to love it so much— there’s always another rabbit hole and the deeper you get into a topic, the more interesting the new rabbit holes are. That has its downsides too though. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and like an impostor in the face of all of that information, especially when you come from a non-traditional background. Four months ago, I’d never even heard of web sockets, OAuth, Redis, MongoDB, and React, Redux, Postgres, arrow functions, destructuring were just words that I’d heard. Today, I feel confident using all of those to build more and more interesting projects. There’s also obviously a world of information and technologies waiting to be learned and experimented with. When it gets overwhelming, remember where you where seven months ago, and think about where you could be in seven more.