When I started my first coding project at Flatiron School, I got this feeling that I hadn't felt in a long time. It was this itch to keep coding because I was enjoying myself so much. I wanted to add more and more functionality to my project. I told friends and family that the last time I remembered having that feeling was when I played the saxophone in high school.
Back then, I would practice everyday for hours on end, and nobody had to tell me to. I wanted to practice.
I really started to progress in my playing abilities during my sophomore year. I didn't even notice until one day, while I was practicing some audition music, I heard outside my practice room, "Who's that playing?".
A head poked through the door. "Oh! You sound really good."
Not gonna lie, it felt really good to hear that and it did boost my confidence.
But there's a fine line to walk between confidence and fear.
At some point I started to develop the identity of a "good" saxophone player. To the point where I didn't allow myself to try and learn new things on saxophone because doing so would make me a beginner again and I'd be "bad" at playing my instrument. Unless it was something that was put in front of me that I had to learn how to play, I didn't venture out and learn new things. I didn't get creative. I was very rigid. Not surprisingly, playing the saxophone started to become less fun.
When I was working on a mini coding project last week, I got all of my main deliverables to work. Great! I had some extra time, so I thought of trying things that were outside the scope of what I knew so far.
Maybe I should try to add a login screen. Maybe I can work on the design and make this website look pretty. Maybe I can try to embed some videos on my website.
Short of a few half-hearted attempts, I didn't try any of those things.
Looking back at my project, I wish that I had ventured out and really tried out some of those ideas, even if they didn't work out in the end. Unfortunately, I had gotten that similar feeling of when I played the saxophone: I didn't want to be bad at coding. My code was working! Why mess with it?
But I should've messed with it. That's the only way to get better. I have to keep reminding myself that it's okay to break my code. My classmates and I are reminded in class to view errors as the default for our code. If we see errors, that's a good thing! We're learning what to do and what not to do. And the errors are guiding us.
I'm inspired by my classmates because I see them get creative and try new things. It's pushing me to do the same. You can't be creative if you're afraid of being wrong.
I wish that I had learned this back when I was a little band nerd in high school. It would have probably prevented me from burning out. I was just too perfectionistic and I never allowed myself a day off from practicing. Now, when it comes to coding, I know to allow myself mental breaks and to allow myself to break things.
Coding is way more fun that way.
I still pick up my saxophone to play now and again, but now I just do it for the enjoyment. :)