Learning new skills after learning to code

I've always been a perfectionist. Not the sort of perfectionist who would practise hard things until I was good at them. I wish! No, I was the type of perfectionist who would try a new skill and if I wasn't immediately good at it, I'd give up. I believed that if I wasn't naturally good at something, I never would be.

Sports? I gave up. Knitting? I gave up. Riding a bike? I gave up. Algebra? I gave up. 😂

Then I learned a programming language.

When I began to learn JavaScript, it was hard. So hard. I really struggled, and after my first week at my coding bootcamp I spent a whole night sobbing on the couch. I wasn't naturally good at it and I didn't think I'd ever get it.

However, I'd paid a lot of money for my bootcamp so I pressed on.

I took on new challenges every day. I struggled through it. I fought against the voices in my head telling me I wasn't technical enough. I pushed back when my brain wanted to sit comfortably working with HTML and CSS only.

I'm still learning. I definitely haven't come out the other side of this struggle. I still find programming hard. I still have to push myself every day and challenge myself and hardly any of it comes easy. If I spend too much time comparing myself to others it's easy to wonder if it's all worth it. I love my job though. I enjoy the work that I do, even when it's hard. So I haven't given up.

The interesting part now is how I approach learning new skills these days.

This year I've been trying some new hobbies. I admit I got a little burnt out last year. Doing nothing but working and studying through a pandemic was getting a bit much for my mental health. This year I'm focusing more on taking a break from the keyboard and monitor when I can.

I started with crochet. For a long time I got stuck in the process of just following basic tutorials to practise stitches (tutorial purgatory sound familiar anyone?). Finally I tackled my first project. I crocheted a beanie!

A beanie that I crocheted

It was so hard. I made lots of mistakes. There were times where I wanted to give up. Past me would have given up for sure. This time however, I continued. I pulled out the stitches I made mistakes in and re-did them. Some mistakes I accepted and continued anyway. It took a long time but I got there. I completed a beanie - and I love it, mistakes and all! I'm so proud of it! I'm not the best at crochet, and my first project is far from perfect. But I'm better at crochet than when I started and that makes me so proud.

Next I started online solo jazz dance classes. I'm trying my best to take 15 - 30 mins a day to practise. I am AWFUL. Really not good. Past me would call it quits, accept that it's not something I'm good at, and move on with my life (with a bit of regret). Me, now? I'm still going. I'm still practising. I'm focusing on improving and enjoying the process of learning.

My latest skill that I'm attempting is roller skating. I've been trying to practise every day around the house. I've fallen over many times. My progress feels slow. I'm certainly not a natural roller skating talent. I haven't given up yet though! I'm focusing on challenging myself to try something new each time I practise.

So what's changed? Have I gained more patience with age?

Maybe. Or maybe that learning a programming language helped me:

  • feel more comfortable with the learning process
  • recognise that you often have to be bad at something before you can get good at something
  • understand that sometimes the most rewarding skills are the hardest or most time consuming to master
  • feel comfortable making mistakes and trying again. And again. And again...

If there's one skill that I'm grateful for from my coding bootcamp it's that I learned how to learn and not give up when things get hard.

And to be okay with being a bit shit at things as long as I'm making progress - or just enjoying it! 🤷🏻‍♀️