If you’re one of those people who says “I love challenging myself,” you’re a filthy liar.

Because I’m one of those people, too.

To “challenge” myself, I decided to learn Python over the summer. Because I’m terrible at all things computers and understanding how they work.

When you spend a lot of your time working in digital media, that’s probably not a smart thing to admit. But I am curious about deepening my understanding, and that’s going to require learning some new languages.

I’m more “let’s eat chili and finish reading Amy Poehler’s memoir” than “let’s eat chili and spend 12 hours on creating a Python program.”

The chili is non-negotiable (Confession: I am eating chili and writing this on my lunch break.)

My Journey with Python, like most relationships, started out great! We really connected!

Week 1: Whoo hoo, coding is fun! I love Python and everything about it makes sense!

Then we spend some time together and realize that having a healthy relationship isn’t going to be easy:

Week 9: How the flying @#)&*$$ do I get my list into dict()? How do you do key:value pairs again? Why am I spending my Tuesday night doing this?

The only way I’ve gotten through this class (which is totally free and offered through Coursera) is through a local Python hack night, Py-CU.

You can come and work on projects or if you’re me, suck up someone else’s time whining about how you don’t understand what you’re doing wrong.

Nadia interrupted my apologetic blathering (about how I should have read the textbook more closely before coming) with this:

“Just try stuff. Listen, you’re not going to mess up it so badly that it breaks.”

And then birds sang and all the sunflowers simultaneously turned their faces to the sun and my brain caught on fire (in a good way, I promise).

My program didn’t need to be perfect the first time.

The only way I was going to learn how to do the damn thing was to get messy. Indent lines of codes wrong. Insert a thousand print statements so I can check where I went wrong and fix it.

With a few exceptions, you’re not going to mess it up so badly it breaks.

I believe this could be created into a Pinterest quote. And attributed to someone awesome who didn’t say it, such as Edna St. Vincent Millay or Tina Turner.

I fully expected to be able to read the textbook, watch the videos, then code perfectly on the first try. That’s insane.

I should have been getting messy the ENTIRE TIME.

I wasted nearly 10 weeks on a level of perfection that would never be possible. And that’s normal and good and what I should be seeking in Python, and with other projects I’m working on.

Thanks for the life lesson, Python. I really mean that.

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