100 Days of Code — Comfort and Ambiguity
“You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and falling over.”
Today marks the official end of the 100 days of code challenge for me.
Every day (with one exception) I sat down and coded for at least an hour, sharing my experiences through Twitter. Some days involved Free Code Camp projects or exercises, others were forays into other languages and tutorials. Over time, this challenge became part of my routine — get up, work, come home, code, go to bed. It became comfortable. I became comfortable with it.
When it comes to coding, that’s the most dangerous feeling you can have. When you’re comfortable, stepping outside yourself and trying new things becomes more difficult. Learning is pushed aside because you already know what’s going on. You have a solid grasp on things.
Until you don’t.
A Look Back
So what coding knowledge did I start my journey with? The honest answer is ‘not much.’
- College — 1 intro to computer programming course (taken many years ago.)
- W3Schools — Completed their HTML/CSS tutorials.
When you stop and look at the numbers today, however, this isn’t uncommon. Many people who get into coding have done so without computer science or coding backgrounds.
With that in mind, I asked the question you usually hear before a spectacular failure or unexpected, Hollywood-like success: “how hard could this be?”
I was hoping for the latter.
50 Days Later…
I was disappointed. The answer: “very.”
On day 50 I mentioned dreaming about crossing this supposed finish line. What didn’t make it into the post was how badly things were going. Many times I went back to Alexander Kallaway’s article “When it gets dark.” I spent over a month trying to solve a single Free Code Camp problem. Everything seemed insurmountable, with the idea that everyone else gets it, why don’t you? Planted firmly upfront. I didn’t ask for help because I didn’t know what to ask or how to phrase it. I was afraid of being seen for what I really was — a newbie, in over his head.
This is what happens when resistance meets the spiral. Next to comfort, this is the second most dangerous thing to have happen.
My commit numbers are, well, nonexistent. I didn’t maintain the GitHub log of my experiences or write regular blog/medium posts like many others. Most of my time was spent on exercises & reading, which didn’t count towards the challenge.
In any other situation, this would be considered a total failure. In the original rules of the challenge, it is. The difference, however, between failing and wasting your time is enormous.
What I’ve learned
To solve problems through code is to embrace ambiguity. There is no one hard & fast way to solve any given problem. There is no one way to learn. This is something I’ve struggled to understand because so many other times in life you’re told this is the only way to do X.
When that restriction is lifted, it becomes overwhelming and, honestly, terrifying. Learn to speak up. Learn your terminology, learn how to ask for help and learn how to apply what you’ve learned. Practice, practice, practice, and never give in to the resistance you feel. You’re not alone.
Measuring where I am now vs. at the beginning shows this experience is a win.
Here’s the road I took:
- W3Schools — basic, simple explanations of HTML/CSS/JS here.
- Codecademy — more in-depth explanations of coding and how it works.
- Free Code Camp — naturally.
- Mozilla Developer Network (JS)
The next question is where do I go from here? The challenge is over, but I still have a deep interest in coding, and there’s always more to learn, and more to do.
Well, I think the answer’s obvious.
See you on day 101!