Coding is Hard | Working Through Frustration

Up until now I’ve only been posting about the good days and the positive strides I’ve made learning to code.  But frankly, it’s not all good days.  I admit, I love to learn and that is what keeps me coming back to coding, but, there are some days when nothing is clicking and I feel like I’ll never understand it.

Some of my most frustrating moments happen when I’ve walked away from a working script only to find the next time I visit the script…it doesn’t.  Or…when I’ve gotten to a point in a tutorial where i’m stuck.  I mean hopelessly stuck.  I just can’t figure out why it’s not working and I don’t ‘know who to ask.

A bit of background – I was taught to not ask for help.  I was ‘smart’ (or so I was told) so I should be able to figure things out.  But, sometimes, I can’t.  In my younger days I’d simply walk away or remained quiet until someone else figured out I needed help.  So, I tried to teach my son sometimes you do need help. I also taught him to give it a shot himself first at solving his problems. But, as soon as he realizes it isn’t working seek counsel.  That’s how I approach problem solving now.  I figure out what I don’t understand then seek out resources (usually on the internet) to help me solve them.  It was after years of working with WordPress or should I say struggling with WordPress before I realized there was an entire community of people that could possibly help me past my stumbling blocks. It was even longer before I found how open to helping they were.

In any case, I said all of this to say, yesterday, I revisited a particularly challenging exercise in Codecademy’s JavaScript course.  I say it’s particularly challenging because it was at that point more than a year ago where I abandoned the course.  Back then I wasn’t tied into the tech community the way I am now.  Equally back then I hadn’t made the commitment to use code as a means to transform my life.  In any case, last week I joined Free Code Camp and worked my way through the challenges only to end up…there.

Back at that same soul crushing exercise I just couldn’t figure out.  I looked at it a while as I experienced similar vague thoughts of defeat and doubt.  I again, for a moment, thought I was going to have to quit.  I mean I’ve hit that same wall, right?

This time though I had the slack channel at Free Code Camp to get away and clear my head.  In the past few days I’ve met some amazingly supportive people on the channel.  This time there were people on there I hadn’t yet met.  And, there was one person experiencing the same frustration on the same Codecademy challenge.  I suddenly felt like I wasn’t alone, and I wasn’t crazy.  Again, the past few days I’ve spent on the slack channel the people I’ve met have been so encouraging and generous I thought surely this kindred spirit would receive the help he and I both desperately needed to move past this block.

Well, we did, and we didn’t.

Because I was in his shoes I understood his futile attempt to explain his point of confusion.  Yes, it initially sounded more like a rant but underneath it all was also the explanation of where he was stuck.  At the time I couldn’t help because I hadn’t figured it out myself.  Plus, I was viewing a conversation that had taken place hours before.  But, I felt his pain.  The responses he received from the two or three campers trying to help were almost — hostile.  They didn’t understand his problem and were not interested in hearing his rant because….they already passed the challenge or were so experienced with JavaScript they didn’t bother to work through that part.  I thought to myself, “Sometimes we forget what it’s like to be the newbie.”  But in the Camper’s responses one thing rang true.  All the information is already there.  If you don’t understand it go back to the beginning of the section and start again.  All the information is already there.  Dejected, I closed the channel and went to bed.

This morning with a fresh mind and clear determination I revisited the challenge with the camper’s words ringing in my mind.  All the information is already there.  Go back to the beginning of the section and start again.  I figured if I didn’t get it this time I’d go back to the section before it and start there.  But, these guys along with tens of thousands of others have already passed this challenge so it must be true.  All the information is already there.  And…it was!

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