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I’m in a Funk.

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by | Dec 13, 2018

This week was one of the first weeks in months that I have not added a post on a Tuesday. It started days before the usual Tuesday deadline loomed, so I won’t try and blame it on having lots of work to do. It was a mixture of procrastination and fear, I was in a funk.

What on Earth do I write about this week?

Writing a blog is scary when you first start, because you are really putting yourself out there for scrutiny. One of my biggest hang ups, like many people I am sure, is the worry of people disagreeing with you. Or, even worse, not liking you! Which, as I have grown up, I have realised is inevitable. Not everyone will like you. It’s such a hard pill to swallow! However, I have swallowed my pill and written the following blog post because I realised that done is better than perfect. Maybe people won’t read it, but at least I made the effort to write.  This week I thought I would have a little ramble about something that I have found difficult these past few weeks. I have decided to write a little about getting into “The Funk” [disclaimer: not the good dancing kind].

 

The Funk

 

My coding journey started because I was in a situation I have never been in before, I had no place of work. No place to go every day, nothing to keep me occupied in the hours that my husband isn’t here (when he is at work). It quickly became an obsession though, and pretty soon I had moved from HTML to CSS and was starting JavaScript. I researched people learning to code on their own and read post after post about newbie coders falling off a cliff once they were finished with HTML and CSS because those are much more simple than actual coding languages. After these, things are difficult and many people just … give up. I thought, not me! I am one motivated individual, I don’t give up, this is so much fun.

 

I gave up.

 

It started with a few rejections/let downs. I looked into bootcamps in the surrounding area and each time I was told I wouldn’t be eligible for payment assistance, which is not ideal if you don’t have the 20K bootcamp fee sitting in your bank account (I don’t). Next, for months I had been following the “Lambda School” craze on twitter. People with no coding experience, or who (like me) trying to teach themselves, were finding incredible jobs after the teaching at the online coding bootcamp. I researched thoroughly and it seemed too good to be true, but the reviews didn’t lie. People were raving about the curriculum and, most importantly, the pay back scheme. Lambda School teaches you a no upfront cost, and you only begin to pay back once you are earning over a certain amount (similar to a Scottish student loan). I had to get in. I practised and practised, completing their entry bootcamp homework and passing the Lambda challenge. I sent off my application and had the most incredible interview (Karen, head of admissions is a LOVELY person. I was her inbox pest for weeks and she never once acted like I was bothering her.) You can see where this is going though, I didn’t get accepted.

 

It frickin hurt, I did cry and I did exactly what I said I was not going to do. I gave up. I thought, how on Earth can I teach myself to code? All these amazing people that have managed are out of my league, they must be exceptionally smart and I am not. I got myself in a funk, no direction and no motivation. How could I write about tech or what I had been up to [in the blog] when the honest truth is that I’ve been feeling sorry for myself and wandering about with no direction. People were going to realise I have no idea what I am doing. Short and simple, I got myself into “The Funk”. That place you get where you only want to slob on the sofa, eat Pringles and achieve absolutely nothing.

 

A few days ago, I received a message from someone I had connected with on instagram who works as a freelance webdeveloper. We hit it off and she gave me some direction. It was the little kick I needed, convincing yourself you are not good enough won’t get you to your goal and not DOING anything also won’t let you achieve very much. Everyone has doubts, just start putting your work out there and learn from constructive criticism and from watching your own journey. I took her advice and started learning on WordPress and Divi (a WordPress theme) and pretty soon I had given my website a wee makeover. It was time to drag myself out of “The Funk” and start doing things.

 

I sat down with my husband and made a game plan of my goals and how I was going to change my career, because ultimately this has become the aim of my foray into tech. Freecodecamp and The Odin Project seemed like fantastic starts, and I also began a short online course called “Learning how to Learn”. We identified that I have an incredibly fixed mindset: I hold the firm belief that I am not intelligent and never will be. However, after completing “Learning how to Learn” I now understand that our brains are constantly growing and learning, creating new connections to allow us to retain the new information we read. The power of “yet” was another fantastic take away. I am not good at JavaScript … YET. I can become eloquent in JavaScript, if I learn and put the work in and grow my mind. In summary, I am not in a fixed state where I will never be able to learn new things. I just have to actually take steps to learn them.

 

Next step was making a list of my achievements since the start of this journey. I run on “reward” and FreeCodeCamp is extremely helpful for this because you receive a certificate after you finish each course, which you can add to your linked in. Like a wee Hi5, pat on the back. I updated my LinkedIn to reflect all the work I have been doing [solo] and past achievements. It was nice to see it all written down!

 

Finally, in reference to my other post “It’s Okay not to be Okay” I spoke to some loved ones about how I was feeling, including my doubts and impostor syndrome and my sister gave me some wonderful advice: speak to yourself as you would speak to a friend [even in your own head]. I would never tell a friend they aren’t good enough or that they can’t achieve something. I pride myself on encouraging others to achieve and go after their goals. Why am I any different? It is not something that will happen right away, but I am making a conscious effort to speak (and think) to myself with kindness.

 

In summary, I understand why people try to coax us into learning to code by telling us “anyone can do it” and, yes, anyone can. However, the message simplifies it so that when you do find learning to code difficult, you feel defeated. Anyone can do this, why am I finding it difficult? I must not be good enough. So, as a newbie and a self teacher (currently) I just want to say that teaching yourself to code is HARD but it is not impossible. You will have days where nothing makes sense, and days where none of your code works, but that is true of even the most progressed developers. You will also face rejection, it is inevitable. What is important is how you deal with rejection. It is so easy to get yourself in “The Funk” where motivation seems impossible because you’ll never be good enough. I also have no doubt that you will get into “The Funk” more than once in your journey, but remember that our brains grow and you’re not good at that something … YET. It’s also important to note that motivation doesn’t hit you like a lightning bolt when you’re sitting binge watching Grey’s Anatomy in the pyjamas you haven’t changed out of in days. Motivation comes by doing. Use the Pomodoro technique to get you started and avoid procrastination: work for 25 minutes, break, and a further 25 minutes of work etc. and the motivation will start to flow. I’m not there … yet, but I will get there. Write down your goals and work out step by step how you are going to make them a reality. Now, I am away off to a “Ladies Lounge” [run by General Assembly] to listen to some incredible women talk about goal planning. 

 

Goodbye for now, Funk.