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Pobody's Nerfect

I recently went through my Github repo to label my school projects in the event of encountering recruiters mid-scouting.

Reading through my code trying to decipher which project belonged to what class,

I cringed.

I recognized projects where I experienced immense growing pains.

I remembered the feeling of frustration fueled by the toxic cocktail of my naivetΓ©, the excuse of a short and strict timeline, depression and perfectionism.

Perfectionism is problematic.

I have always had the nasty habit of comparison.

Related to it, I have the wonderful talent of encountering developer-designers at their peak or rising to it.

They were the epitome of career perfection.

Thus, the act of comparing myself to these shining examples of the ideal developer/designer has kept me down, and I am the only one to blame.

The act of comparison is a complete waste of time.

Spending time comparing yourself to someone else produces absolutely nothing. That could've been spent learning and growing and becoming one of the so-called elite.

The "elite" made mistakes.

The "elite" started from not knowing anything at all, too.

Even those who are influential began with spaghetti code and off-center layouts.

I have accepted the fact I will never be perfect.

I will stumble and fall through coding and designing experiences.
I will continuously blunder through building a product.

But the truth is, that's part of the process, even post-graduation/bootcamp, even while you're well into your career.

You know the age-old techie mantra:

Move fast and break things

Drop the "move fast" part.


Break things and learn from it.

Understand concepts and methods through and through so that you spend less time on research, or at least learn the right keywords to find it again, but faster.

For instance, I keep forgetting the short-hand format for CSS font-styling:

font: font-style font-variant font-weight font-size/line-height font-family;

I just had to look that one up for this post. Now I will forget it less and less.

The point is:

if you're not breaking things, you're neither learning nor improving.

To be perfect is to be without flaws, right? You don't have to fix a damn thing about something that's perfect.

Let's be real: "perfection" becomes stale.

Throw the idea of "perfectionism" out the window.

Instead, strive for improvement. Strive to be a better you, a better developer, a better designer than yesterday.

I'm leaving my less-than-perfect school projects in my repo so that I can look back and see how much I've improved since.

  • P.S. I highly recommend watching "The Good Place".

Discussion (20)

chrisvasqm profile image
Christian Vasquez

"If you're not breaking things, you're neither learning nor improving."

This is one of those posts that hits you right in the feels.

I'll be switching from QA to Android Developer in 2 days from now and I have been reading sooo many different things lately, but not actually building anything. I'm just trying to nom nom nom nom as much information as possible.

Thanks you for the wake up call, Cat :)

elkhan profile image

Everyone does that, no?)

brianacamp profile image
Bri Camp Gomez

Great post, thank you for sharing!

I struggle with the same things; perfectionism, comparison, feeling like I'm not improving/learning fast enough, etc. There's a great mantra I learned at my company which is "Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast". Apparently it's from the military but it really is beneficial for me to not freak out if I'm not "improving"/learning fast enough. When I feel those feelings, I ask myself am I better than yesterday? If so, then I have to celebrate that since that is an improvement and get outside or do something else non developer related so I can come back fresh the next day. If not, then I ask myself what can I learn right now to be better than yesterday? With web development, I have a slewwww of things I can learn so it's an easy question to answer.

Understand concepts and methods through and through so that you spend less time on research, or at least learn the right keywords to find it again, but faster.

Yes to this! I'm a believer in nailing the foundations of the technology at hand so I can answer the why, what, and how of x when x will inevitably break in Safari or IE11.

Thank you again for your wisdom and reminders. Fuck perfectionism.

cat profile image
Cat Author

Slow is smooth, smooth is fast

I learned that from my Grandmaster! It's so true in every aspect of life.

acoh3n profile image
Arik • Edited on

Good stuff. Can't agree more. If someone wants to become a programmer they're gonna have to get their hands dirty. A lot. One can read all the programmimg books in the world if they want. But they're not gonna learn anything until they got some code "grease" on their hands.

Moreover, I'm sure Picasso's first painting, motzart's first tune and Leonardo's first sculpture weren't great works of art. And if could ask them, I'll bet they'll say the same about their last.

Yes, perfection is unattainable but it's nice to always have something far in the horizon to go after.

threedeeprinter profile image
Dan Benge • Edited on

I used to get discouraged whenever I was learning a new framework or language and something wouldn't work. How was I ever going to learn if I kept having to go back and look stuff up?

Then after I became an "official" developer (aka being paid for it), I realized that won't ever stop happening. This is especially true if you can code in more than one language/framework/etc. Unless you have a photographic memory, you will have to "get back up to speed" many times during your career.

ronalds profile image
Ronald S

To me, being perfect is not about that scoreboard out there. It's not about winning. It's about you and your relationship to yourself and your family and your friends.

Being perfect is about being able to look your friends in the eye and know that you didn't let them down, because you told them the truth. And that truth is that you did everything that you could. There wasn't one more thing that you could've done.

Coach Gaines, Friday Night Lights (2004)

I think this counts for every kind of team, but also for your self image.
Striving for perfection is one thing, being bummed out because you think other people are more perfect is another thing, and can be very destructive.
Great useful post!

cat profile image
Cat Author

I found these definitions of "perfect":

As a verb:

make (something) completely free from faults or defects, or as close to such a condition as possible.

As a noun:

having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.

Being perfect is about being able to look your friends in the eye and know that you didn't let them down, because you told them the truth.

I suppose that the definition of "perfect" as a noun could relate to the quote.

There's something that bothers me about the quote though:

So you told your friends and family you did everything you could.

Isn't "everything you could" on the way to completion filled with mistakes and regrets?

How does that === perfect?

It's more like you're admitting you did all you could. You're being perfectly honest, rather, not perfect.

Striving for perfection is also very destructive because you have an expectation and definition of what is "perfection". If the mindset isn't right, it may be overwhelming. It may make the situation absolutely hopeless.

r3i profile image

"Even those who are influential began with spaghetti code and off-center layouts."

love this! reminds me to have patience with myself.

andrekelvin profile image

This is highly motivational

ben profile image
Ben Halpern


cat profile image
Cat Author

It took me forever to remember the border one hahaha I cry.

jaymeedwards profile image
Jayme Edwards πŸƒπŸ’»

Great mindset! Thanks for sharing.

codemouse92 profile image
Jason C. McDonald


emmanuelobo profile image
Emmanuel Obogbaimhe

Yea going through old college code can be a real gut-wrenching experience. But at least it shows growth.

Great Post!

rhymes profile image

Well said :)

moopet profile image
Ben Sinclair

When you say "I have accepted the fact will never be perfect.", did you mean "I have accepted the fact that I will never be perfect."?

pokey-tongue emoji.

cat profile image
Cat Author • Edited on

Yep, thus proving my point lol.