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Ngacho
Ngacho

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What—and how—staying alone and being forced to cook reminded me about my programming journey.

The first time I opened android studio was two hundred and twenty five days ago. I was not only trying to recover from major setbacks in my life, but also felt abandoned by everyone I thought I was close to. I felt alone. Having non-existent hobbies (passions) then, it was only natural that my will to live on depended on any straws I could find and clutch on.

Little did I know that programming was lay among those straws: a friend of mine had over-estimated my coding capabilities and given me an android project to work on. She has since abandoned the idea altogether, but I am really glad she asked me to create the application. It’s what I’ve clutched on ever since. At least, I wake up every day looking forward to something. It may not be that great or revolutionary, but I’m glad I started this journey.

Similarly, I find myself alone today—in a remote village of my country. Nothing is wrong this time, I am just taking time off. I’m fully living alone for the first time in my life. I didn’t know it’s hard to decide what to eat if you live alone. It’s worse when you don’t have fast-food options nor know how to cook. Nonetheless, one has to eat. So after two days of surviving on bread and lots of coffee, I was forced to enter the kitchen and prepare something.

I remember looking at the utensils in the kitchen and thinking to myself, this exactly feels like what android studio felt the first time I opened it. It was new and strange. It felt like one big static main void. The two hundred and twenty five days I have been looking at android studio however came in handy. They inspired me. If I had hacked android studio, the tormentor of RAMs and senior developers, who was I not to hack a kitchen?

I recalled everything I had ever seen anyone do in a kitchen, gathered my ingredients, and psyched myself for this new challenge. “The worst thing I can do is make edible food, not bad, just edible,” I remember telling myself. I then set out to work, and after a lot of improvisation, I had something to eat. In my first attempt at cooking, I did well. As a matter of fact, I cooked something I thought was really hard—Ugali. As I enjoyed the first meal I have ever cooked in my life, I couldn’t help but draw similarities and extrapolate lessons from both my beginner journeys—in the kitchen, and in android studio.

When you are starting out, it doesn’t matter how you do it. What really matters is you do it. I remember one of my biggest weaknesses is thinking I could write industry (read FAANG) standard code. Looking back, I think I was a bit too harsh on myself, and ever since I accepted I was a beginner and I needed results not standards, I think my drive to code rose exponentially. I might have written lots of spaghetti code, but who cares? I know how to code, don’t I? For cooking, at least I didn’t fall into that trap. I didn’t hold myself to any particular standards. The fact was, I had never cooked, so imagining I could produce chef-like meals was not a goal in mind. I became comfortable with cooking something that is edible, not professional. With that, I know I will continue cooking, looking forward to become better at preparing meals. Point is, when you are starting out, do not care whether your code is industry-standard. Just ensure your code does the intended task.

Those are my only two cents. If you are deliberating either cooking or coding, don’t deliberate… just do it. I must warn you though, you might not be able to stop. Happy coding, and cooking!'

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