I began my exploration of computer programming with the Flatiron School in July. Learning to code continues to be both exciting and daunting for me. It is empowering to be able to write a line of code that effects a change, or accurately create connections where there were none before. At the same time, the scale of what I have not yet learned looms out of the darkness. Terminology, unknown languages and frameworks, techniques and conventions.
“Aller Anfang ist Schwer.”German Proverb
This was one of the first phrases we learned German 101 in college. It very simply means All beginnings are hard. Of all the German aphorisms, this one has stuck with me the longest. The bluntness and brevity of the phrase perfectly exemplify a very German attitude to personal growth. There is nothing mysterious about the difficulties of starting from the beginning.
It is hard.
The Flatiron curriculum has taught me to focus on breaking concepts and processes down to their simplest parts. Instead of focusing on the magnitude of a task, I have learned to determine the steps needed to succeed, and start with a laser focus on step one. When those tests pass, move on to the next problem. As each test returns green, soon the lab is complete. I find my flow while coding when I am not distracted by the scale of the entire project.
I urge anyone who is feeling overwhelmed, whether by a coding problem or a roadblock in life, to take on the programmer’s approach. When you view the task or problem as a whole, it is incredibly difficult to appreciate the first step. Especially when starting a new skill, the scope of what you don’t yet know can be an immense pressure.
Commit yourself to reducing any process to its smallest components, organize your strategy, and start with step one. Celebrate each small victory, and keep your focus on what comes next. If your progress is slow or frustrating, keep in mind that all beginnings are hard.