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Matthew Clark
Matthew Clark

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Learning to code is hard! But if I can do it, so can you! Here's how I am pushing through...

This is for the true beginners who are not sure if you can do this. This is my first time writing about coding, and I will be writing in very general terms. Largely because I have just started learning code a short while ago. I learned for about a month on my own (not my best learning style), and I have recently started attending the Flatiron School bootcamp. I am only two weeks in... and it has been a huge struggle for me. But it is a worthwhile one.

One of the things I have already learned is how much there is to learn. Whether you pick up the information swiftly, or are struggling with it, there will always still be more to learn. If you are like me, then you may have already hit some roadblocks that make you wonder if you can actually do this. I want to tell you, yes you can.

Why do I know this? Because I am currently managing to do it. Let me say, I am not all that smart, and I am a bit older, and I have lingering effects of chemo which leave my brain in a perpetual fog, and I take other meds that enhance that fog further... Basically, I am not innately good at learning anymore. But, what I am, is stubborn. I'll tell you my new learning process.

When I get new material, first I read it. After reading it that first time I quickly realize... that I don't get it. So, I read it again. And then again. By the third reading, I am starting to get an inkling of what they are talking about. So, I then try to use it. There are labs and code challenges available in lots of places that I use to try out what I just learned. Inevitably, it doesn't work the first time. So, I read the material again to find out why. Sometimes I look up a tutorial or blog post from one of you lovely people to help me out. Rinse and repeat until it works. Eventually, it WILL work! Then... I start on the next bit of material to learn.

That might sound miserable to you. It certainly isn't easy. And it isn't particularly fast. But, let me tell you a secret. After pushing through it for awhile, that process starts to get faster and faster. It starts taking one less read-through to understand. The material starts to build on stuff you learned before, which helps that prior topic make even more sense. Until you are two weeks in, and you realize that the thing that you were struggling with last week now comes semi-naturally while you are struggling with something new.

The small successes when material starts to make sense, and the moments of realization when you notice that you are using something you didn't understand before... those are worth struggling for. It won't make the learning easier, or the occasional doubt go away. But, it will prove that you CAN learn. I have some completed code challenges and a project started that show that some of it is starting to stick. You will too!

The long and short of it is this, if you want to learn to code, then you can do it. Just be diligent and purposeful (ie. a stubborn cuss), and keep going... Most of all, be patient and kind with yourself. It will come. I don't know if that is helpful for anyone. But, hopefully knowing that others are struggling with it, but are still going might help you decide to do the same. That is all.

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