Journaling as a Bootcamp Student

“pen on white lined paper selective focus photography” by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Wow, here it is. My first blog post as a budding software engineer. It’s week 2 of my journey as a student in a very thorough software engineering bootcamp, and I’m feeling a ton of emotions right now. I’m both excited and nervous, curious but cautious, and generally thankful all at the same time. Having thought through the topic of this first blog, I’ve decided to make this post about what I’m currently doing to process everything I’m experiencing. I hope that after some editing, and much needed coffee, this post can be somewhat of a resource for other “bootcampers” out there.

So, there’s this thing called Journaling. Oooo, didn’t see that coming did you? Well, for me this concept of chronicling one’s life, expectations, sorrows, frustrations, and joys all in one go is slightly foreign. Like why would I even need this? I could just binge a season of “This is Us” if I needed to see that range of human emotions, let alone my own right? Maybe it has something to do with me being a guy. From my own experience and observations, guys can be notoriously hard at verifying what we’re experiencing on the inside. For instance, on any given day, at any given time, you could ask me something like, “Hey, how are you feeling today?” My response would likely be some variation of, “I don’t know, I guess I’m kind of hungry… I could use a snack right now.” I’m not even joking, ask any guy near you, and there’s a 50/50 shot he’s probably thinking about food has thought about food within the last 5 minutes. Try it, I’ll wait… See, what I’m talking about. It’s so difficult for me to even know who I am, with all this food on my mind. And so, returning to the original question as to why would it even be necessary to identify your emotions as a human, I’d simply respond, self awareness. Taking on the endeavor of completing a bootcamp, where no day is the same, without constantly identifying your own sense of self, might actually be a little hazardous, no matter who you are.

That being said, I’d like to provide somewhat of a tool (or framework if you will) for generating quality journal entries. Please note that #1, I’m coming up with this completely on the spot at the moment, and #2, this is not something concrete. So here we go, let’s call it the, Three V’s of Processing and Identifying Emotional Wellbeing While Journaling method, or “Vvv” for short. I know, the name needs a little work, but we’ll get there in time.

The first “V” of this method, would be Vivid, or simply describing, as best possible, all that your going through during your journal entry. The level of detail is entirely dependent upon you, but I’d really encourage walking through your daily experience as a new dev who’s learning so many new things within such a short window.

The second “V” would be Vulnerability. I know, the very concept of writing within a journal makes you vulnerable, but what I’m attempting to convey here is that you want your journal entries to be fully you, no filter. Like the very idea of someone getting a hold of your beloved journal should make you blush. The reason behind this would be that, it’s very likely that you as a student have taken a temporary hiatus from those relationships with which you would normally be open to discussing your feelings. Depending on the level of intensity of your bootcamp, ties with close family and friends may be just shy of cut off, and that can be an incredibly difficult pill to swallow as you’re already trying to digest a ton of new information. So, do yourself a favor and lay it all there. “Say it with ya chest,” so to speak.

The third “V” of this method would be Veritas, a latin term meaning truth. Your journal entries should be honest. During the past two entries of my own journal, I’ve noticed that I still have the opportunity of being dishonest with myself, even in a space as safe as my personal writings. Avoid this. Be as true to yourself as you can, and state the obvious as often as you can. The more this is practiced, the easier it’ll become… just like programming… sort of.

Finally, remember that journaling can honestly be whatever you want it to be. Use it to help you gauge where you are along your journey as a bootcamp developer, and it may provide you with a useful tool to help tell your story to others during your bootcamp, and maybe much further along the way as well.