Leaping Through the Closed Door

When an opportunity opened for me to work in JavaScript at a hackathon, I found that I didn’t know where to start. I ended up struggling to work with it, wasted 24 hours of my time, and immediately hated JavaScript.

My thoughts were: Too annoying to learn. Too tedious to set up. Too disinterested to work with it.

In doing so, I avoided any prospect of JavaScript for the past year.

I sidled away from web app projects at hackathons.

I ignored checkmark boxes that begged about some notion of “Web Apps” interest on generic internship applications.

I shuddered at the thought of Node.js.

The only time I ever came close to using JavaScript again was adding typed.js into my personal website, which I later replaced with a Jekyll Now blog format.

JavaScript was a field of programming I didn’t want to venture into ever again.

This past weekend though, I went up to Dallas to celebrate Earth day at Earthack, and found myself having to work with JavaScript. The problem we wanted to solve was a scalable mobile app that would help reduce the substantial amount of litter floating about earth while raising awareness over how harmful litter could be. In doing so, we had to create a mobile and web server communication component in order to allow for scalability to be sustained.

Which means we had to work with Node.js.

I was very adamant in working in that language, and wanted to offer that task up to someone else. But there was no one who could take up that task. Some of my team members would be leaving momentarily to spend time with parents on Saturday while others would be spending a majority of the hackathon working on the mobile aspect of the project. With no other exit for me to take, and in order for us to finish the project, I was pushed by urgency to on the job and traverse that dark territory once again.

And after spending 36 sleepless long hours developing in that language, I came to an epiphany.

“It’s not that bad.”

I found that my lack of experience and knowledge when initially working in JavaScript had stopped me from wanting to work with it. With a few small instances of set-up, several pushes to GitHub, and one single command of ‘nodejs index.js’, I was able to get our web server running and I could see live action results achieved instantaneously. I realized that if I hadn’t been forced to program in JavaScript, though, I never would’ve opened myself up to working on the language in the future, if ever.

The door would’ve always been closed.

This seems to be a recurring pattern for me over many things. After a bad first impression with a grueling tutorial over a language, a horrible experience with some given hackathon, or an arduous set-up time with some software tool, I find myself slamming shut the door and pushing away the idea of ever going to the event or working with the software component ever again. (To name a few, this happened with Docker, AWS Web Services, APIs, Virtual environments, and hackathons)

And now, these doors are opened really wide for me.

Retrying these services and events after a period of time, I find that they’re not as bad as they seemed, and open myself to them. As a matter of fact, I find myself being associated with all of these tools and events in some form or fashion every day. They all add an additional piece of pizzazz to my development, performance, and life.

That’s why I’m planning to challenge myself these next few years. I’m hoping to leap through those closed doors I placed way back in time. This includes learning the history behind subjects I find hard to enjoy, reading books in my free time, trying to work with low-level or untried languages (ex. Haskel, Lisp, Assembly, Ruby, etc…), and many more.

To break through the mental barriers I had constructed and go back to areas I had halted (or never even started), I aim to reopen doors I previously passed over subjects I may have found uncomfortable in order to expand my scope of vision, experience vulnerability, and potentially find passions, hobbies, and greater enjoyments that I would never have thought I’d experience in life.

Who knows what I’ll find behind those closed doors.