Pre-Course (week 3)

It’s been all quiet on the Western front for some time, and there’s a reason for that.

Wednesday 19 August, half-way through week 3; sincerely, I was about to give up. In my mind I had already given up. However, retrospectively, this was me at a crossroads — I could either see myself defeated or give it another chance. I was facing some unexpected difficulties that stripped me from courage and optimism. The horizon had disappeared and I was, out of a sudden, navigating in stormy waters.

For those of you who are about to join Makers, and have never coded before, the following might prove useful to know: once you think you’ve got everything under control, finally feel you’ve caught up with the others, and are confident about the prospects of completing your assignments, the situation can diametrically change.

So here’s what happened. Going through Ruby Kickstart, I found the hour-long video and first five exercises of session 1 a piece of cake. However, the sixth and seventh were unexpectedly difficult, and at that time, I didn’t even understand the provided solutions. Annoyed about this, I decided to move forward with session 2 and leave the two other exercises for now but this strategy failed miserably.

I looked at the exercises. And looked again. Doubled checked they belonged to session 2. It didn’t make sense to me. Whereas most of session 1 almost made me feel superior, session 2 should have been called Hubris. To me, the video took a quantum leap in the level of complexity, and afterwards I was so bewildered that I sobbingly had to reread the exercises. I felt that I was going to throw up. If Makers’ Academy was already that difficult for me (merely half way through week 3) did I then have the qualifications and prerequisites for keeping up with the others and eventually become a junior developer? And perhaps even more importantly, did I have the guts? Makers’ is not just about coding skills — it is just as much about personal traits; you need to be mentally strong, able to collaborate, have spare capacity to help and motivate others and on top of that be highly attentive for some very intense months.

At this point Wednesday, I was down — and it hurt… a lot. I felt disappointed, sad, like a failure, stupid and ignorant. I wanted to throw in the towel but then what would I be left with? A career I’m not particularly interested in pursuing.

The following day was no better. After 11 hours of sleep, my pumping heart woke me up. No nightmares but I felt the stress, pressure and fear. I couldn’t get my pulse down. I took a long shower which helped but it was merely a consolation. My pulse got up again and the nausea strengthened. I couldn’t focus. The day went on pretty much the same way. I was torn, still about to give up, but determined to join the pair-programming with some of the other people from my cohort and the graduation Friday.

I want to cement that I’m not a quitter. I know you might find it hard to believe after reading this screed, but when you fall deep down, it takes serious belief in the greater mission in order to drag yourself up from the hole, dust yourself off, and continue down the road.

So, Friday I went to Makers. I was calm and had come to terms with my decision; if today didn’t go well, I would bid Makers goodbye and amend my plans for the future — of course, this would be a shame, but I would simply have to move on and accept my faith. Luckily, I didn’t come to that.

Meeting the others was a great success. Many things settled that day, but most importantly, it turned out that most of us shared the same concerns and frustrations. I cannot express how much of a relief this was. On top of that, I can highly recommend attending the graduations — seeing what the seniors have accomplished in a few months alined my expectations and experiencing the tight bond that existed among all students was reassuring.

I left Makers later that night with a strong feeling that everything would be alright.

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