I have a confession to make. I’m such a nerd. 😎
I know what you’ll say next – you’re just bragging! Being a nerd or a geek is such a positive identity these days.
But I am no geek in that respect. I don’t play Magic the Gathering, I’m not a fan of Star wars, I don’t do »so weird it’s actually cool« jokes or dinosaur stickers that no no-geek can possibly relate to. I’m not even particularly into technology, computers or fancy gadgets (which is kindof in conflict with what I am about to share with you, but hey).
I am only a geek in the respect that I like school and I like learning. I can’t help myself but be a teacher’s pet and I like to be the best of the class. How uncool is that??
Which is probably why I am now experiencing a sort of post web development course depression. Heck, I’m probably experiencing depression ever since I left school (university) 6 years ago. But let’s focus on web development and how this experience has changed my life for the better 😎
The initial push to take this course came from reading this article – it’s basically about your brain losing its plasticity after age 25, a process that CAN be reversed by »learning a new language or musical instrument. Or any “energy intensive” challenge …« Now, having a degree in English and French, and doing some German on the side, I thought picking up another language wouldn’t be challenging enough. Being as unmusical as I am, learning a music instrument would be a masochistic choice even at an age my brain was the consistency of Play-Doh. I wanted to do something that was challenging just to the right degree and since I’ve always loved maths, I came up with web development :-} So, here it is:
#1 One step forward, two steps back a.k.a. lessons in patience 😎
During this course, I realised a tiny bit what programming actually means. I used to think it was about coming up with fancy algorithms and solving logical riddles. In a way, it is. But a huge chunk of web development skills is taken up by order, patience and methodology. You need to make neat, thoughtful steps. Slowly start at the basics and then gradually work your way up. And take back-steps if needed. When programming, you may be tempted to do something really fast and at the spur of the moment, but then, if it doesn’t work (which is something that happens a lot), it will be very time-consuming to debug your code, if it is messy, unordered and you can’t remember what you did three steps before. Therefore, being patient pays – both online and off :-}
#2 Perseverence is key a.k.a. all you need is Google :}
The way I see it now that I’ve dug into web dev, being computer smart is not so much about being smart as it is about perseverence, at least at the stage I’m at. For any problem you might encounter, chances are, at least one person had already posted a question about it and dozens more have answered, creating a variety of clues to solving your problem. However, all these options can seem overwhelming and trying them out one after the other takes a lot of time, effort and a certain IT stamina, which, hopefully, is an acquired characteristic. And I must say I am pretty proud I didn’t give in when frustrations were sneaking up on me. I learned how to handle problems (bugs) with calmness nad methodological approach. Something I think will be useful in all areas of life, being technical or not.
#3 The ability to surprise oneself a.k.a. I learned that I can still learn new things!
Due to my track-record of love-hate relationship with computers, I was a bit worried as to how this may turn into a frustrating experience, but I managed not only to survive the course – by the end, I was loving every minute of it! So much I didn’t want it to end, but was unquenchably thirsty for more! 😀 I was arguably the most dilligent student in class. Sure, there were people who were better at finding creative and clever solutions, but they weren’t beginners like I was. Just being there, fighting till the end and finishing my final project was a very empowering experience, which I would wholeheartedly recommend to anybody.
Have you ever thought about acquiring advanced IT skills? If you did, I’m curious to hear your story, and if not, I am curious if you tried to achieve some other challenging goals – let me know!