Back in March (when I was days away from getting on a plane to start life on a new continent), my mom and sister were in town and they decided to drop some knowledge on me in their forms of: “we’re proud of you, we want you to be happy, we’ll see you in a little while” type goodbye messages. My mom in specific, mentioned to me that I have always been far too hard on myself. I’m so hard on myself, in fact, that it makes me expect a whole lot from other people and that leads to me being disappointed by people usually, because no one (even the author of this blog) lives up to what I want from them. This was a true read of how I am (of course, it’s my mom, who would know me better than her)?
I’m notoriously hard on myself and that’s just one of my “Justinisms”. Yesterday, the developer bootcamp that I started in April, was supposed to come to a close. The best thing that I could think of was that I would be able to have mornings without having to get up and try to solve algorithms (let’s be real, that’s going to continue, but because of self-imposed desire to get better at them). I considered that I had been working hard for the past 3.5 months and that I would be able to give myself a break of some sort. The very next thing that I thought about was how many shortcomings I had. I wasn’t the top performer of my class, I didn’t feel like I had all the concepts down and I immediately thought of ways (and things) that I should incorporate learning into my daily routine to get myself better for when it’s time to apply for jobs. I thought about the people in my cohort that I think are better than me, how they’d have great times trying to find work and jump into the world of coding. I think that normal people would’ve just been happy at the fact that there was an achievement reached and that would be that.
Let me be clear and honest about one thing. I had a few moments during the past 3.5 months where I thought that I was just not going to be cut out to try this programming thing out and I would have to simply call it, because I wouldn’t be able to push through the workload. I think I had a particularly hard time through the Java stack. Nothing was clicking, I felt like I wasn’t understanding the material, and I thought that I would have to end up repeating that track. Fortunately, the night before the big end of stack test, things all kinda came together and I was able to make sense of them enough to pass the test the next day. The other thing that I should be honest about, is the fact that I never actually considered that I would not finish this thing out, if I didn’t fail.
In my heart of hearts, I have this thing where I feel like I have to perform, because that’s what is expected of me. I gotta get to something, just because I made a big stink about it, or because I’ve talked about it for a long time, but never made any moves on it. When I moved to Oakland, that was something that I’d spoken about for 4 years, before it actually became something that literally did. This coding talk was stuff that I was saying back in my early college days. It was what I wanted to try to do, it only took me about 20 years to actually get to it. I never thought that I wouldn’t, I just knew that I would take my own sweet time to get to it, however, I’d have my chances here and there.
So, before Covid derailed me, a bootcamp was in the back of my head as a back-up option for me if I didn’t get to move. I was going to leave, but I was accepted to one bootcamp and eventually made it into another, which I ended up attending. Right from the beginning, my attitude was one of: “When I finish this thing, it’s gonna feel great”. Not finishing was never an option that I considered. I have taken out a 10k loan to do this, so it’s just what was going to happen. I didn’t waste all that money (that I now need to pay back) did I? That was all the motivation that I needed. I said that I was going to try something and of course, that was going to be achieved. Looking back at this, it made my mentality yesterday seem kinda normal. I shouldn’t be celebrating something that was expected of me. I kinda thought of it like someone being celebrated for paying their bills and not getting kicked out of their residence, or not having the lights turned off. People kinda generally work towards making them happen and it’s not something that folk might consider spectacular.
I’m hard on myself and that’s got good and bad qualities about it. I really need to take the time to give myself grace on actually accomplishing things. It’s a real hard lesson, but the reality is that I don’t have to do anything except work and pay taxes. Anything like setting goals and hitting them should not be looked at as a routine, insignificant thing. Especially, considering that it took me about 20 years to get to this point (did I mention that I now feel real old and very slow to accomplish things)? I gotta have grace, in the face of trying to do something new and maybe I should actually grant myself a real break of some sort, before I get back into the grind of learning and trying things. It might be fun or something like that.