Makers week 1 — Getting (un)comfortable.

I’m a week into the full-time course and I’m already learning that, while true, everything I wrote about in my last blog is only the tip of the iceberg. I know practically nothing. The most reassuring thing is talking to the others in my cohort, and knowing we are in the same boat.

It might be this boat sometimes, that feels like it’s sinking and in the middle of a storm, but at least we are all on it.

Let’s start with a win. I made my very first app from scratch! It rolls dice, that’s it. It’s not big, it’s not clever, and it’s certainly not perfect, but I made it myself. Plus, as a (semi-retired) handmade dice maker, it feels pretty cool to have made a virtual one. I think we are already learning that we need to celebrate the little wins here, they are all important, and they all work towards wider goals. Makers is self-directed, so you need to set your own SMART goals, and make sure you give yourself a little party when you get there. Not without support from the coaches and your cohort, of course — I know I’m just as happy when I hear about my peers’ little wins!

Two very different types of dice.

One of the things that Makers is best at is building a community, not easy when fully remote. I think that without feeling part of something, this journey would already be much harder. Between having a mentor to ask questions of, to a peer group you chat to every morning, to Dana the Chief Joy Officer and the rest of the coaches, all approachable and all lovely, it really feels like a journey you are all on together. That being said, this ain’t easy.

I’m going to continue with the theme of lessons learned here that aren’t code, but that I think will make me a better developer (and maybe human). This week it was several lessons in leaving my anxieties at the door.

One of the hardest things I’m finding is that you are supposed to feel at least a bit uncomfortable all the time, in a sweet spot between your comfort zone and being overwhelmed. This is where we learn and grow the most. If you feel in control of everything, you’re either insanely smart (and I’m jealous) or you may have got your mindset a little wrong. As someone who likes to feel like I know what’s going on, and (I’ll admit) tends to get anxious about what other people think of me and how I’m doing, it’s a bit of a tough pill to swallow. It all ties into imposter syndrome and feeling like you need to prove you should be here, which is certainly a pressure I’m putting on myself, and shouldn’t.

Listen to this angry cat.

I’ve found this easiest to recognise and change in the yoga sessions Dana guides us through twice a week. I’ve always been rubbish at yoga, but after this week I feel like it doesn’t matter. Of course, it’s easy to say that when I can just turn my camera off, but where I might have previously got frustrated with myself and stopped, I find myself continuing, or taking a break and joining the next thing. After two sessions, I’m still bad at yoga, but it feels great anyway. I haven’t quite reached this level of bliss with coding, but I can dream it’ll happen one day.

Also, like Dana herself says, yoga is expensive, so I’m making the most of having a great teacher available to me. I have a feeling that during Makers won’t be the time I’ll find my zen (maybe on a tropical beach somewhere?), but I reckon the closer I am to it, the further I am from a meltdown.

Trying to find my zen right now.

When it comes to coding, it’s a whole different ball game. It’s incredibly difficult not to compare yourself and your journey with those around you, and it’s hard not to feel like you’re falling behind, although I think (well, hope) that lots of us feel like this. This makes it hard to put your ego to one side and ask for help. I constantly find myself thinking I should be able to do something on my own, even though I know I don’t have to. I’m still working on this, to be honest, but yesterday I admitted I didn’t know something, reached out and asked a member of my cohort to give me a hand, so I guess I’m learning. The community is so supportive, it would be daft not to embrace it.

I have doubts all the time. I find myself wondering if my pair partner is frustrated with me, but I try to remember it doesn’t matter, even if I am being a difficult pair today, it’s all part of their process too. That’s not an easy one to get on board with (no one wants to be that guy). It’s also about recognising that no one actually cares where you’re at, beyond wanting to help if they can, everyone is on their own journey and they aren’t here to judge how much code someone else knows. We are all on this path together and will help each other get there.

I have a note on my desk that says “Guess what? You’re here because you are good enough to be. You aren’t supposed to be good at coding yet!”

The biggest thing I’m going to try to take to next week is; leave that pride outside, there’s no place for it here. I think those who ask for help when they need it end up with the best learning experience at Makers, and ultimately that’s what we are all here for. And please, if you’re in my cohort, ask me for help — I probably don’t know the answer, but let’s figure it out together.

If you’d like to read my previous blogs, look here, and feel free to follow along. Either way, thanks for reading this far, and have a lovely day!

A baby coder starting her journey at Makers bootcamp