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Trying to balance Real Life With A Hobby

Not everyone starts coding with the intention of making it big in the industry. Some people just have a bit of time on their hands and decide to dabble with some code as a hobby. That's how I started. In August of 2020, I picked up a laptop, opened FreeCodeCamp and started my coding journey as a hobby while I was in school. I didn't expect to get invested enough to stick with it for as long as I did. Yet, here I am almost a year later trying to debug a React component that hasn't been rendering properly.

It wasn't easy at first. I had a lot of other responsibilities and hobbies at the time. Things I couldn't just give up on simply because I suddenly liked coding.

A lot of articles I read on how to improve your skills always recommend newbies to practice for 6-8 hours a day, and fill in their time slots with as many opportunities to code as possible. However, what these articles fail to consider is that some of the people who pick up coding probably had something they were doing before they picked it up.

So for my fellow beginners who're just starting out and still have a lot of things on their plates, here's some advice from someone who broke out of the funk.

Don't Take Yourself Too Seriously
This is the biggest piece of advice I can give anyone trying to learn anything. Not just coding. If you force yourself to think like a professional when you're just starting out, expect a lot of headaches in the near future. Relax! Take it one step at a time. Not every project you build has to be incredibly impressive and awe inspiring.

Yes that super fancy shopping website you designed looks cool and the colors blend and match amazingly, but the CSS involved will take you through several wringers. Try writing something simple instead and slowly build up on your difficulty as time goes on.

Try to Make Things Fun
Not everything should be painted black and white. Sometimes you can learn while having fun too. Try getting an app that lets you play games while learning coding. Yes, those exist. CodeMonkey, CodinGame, CSS Diner. No matter the language you want to learn, there's something out there that can make it a fun and engaging experience.

Don't Do It All Alone
What good is making something great if no one is there to see it? Share your beautiful work for the world to see, even if it's just a particularly fancy looking button. What matter is that it's your button and you spent time creating it, so let the world appreciate it.

You may not realize it, but a simple "Well done" from a friend, or a "Looks great!" comment on a post you made can give you the motivation and fuel to get back on that horse whenever you fall off.

Practice, Practice, Practice
Yeah, yeah, I know, I started this article talking about how repetitive that bit of advice is, but I never said it wasn't good advice. The whole point of everything else I've said so far was to keep you motivation up to practice as much as you can. Picking up your phone to continue playing that CSS game goes a long way in the long run, trust me. Try to log as much time as you can, but don't overburden yourself. It all boils down to your time management skills and how much time you can give to coding to turn it from a hobby to a skill.

Ultimately, you decide how much and what you can do to make the process easier. As a beginner myself, I can attest to the fact that it's not easy to learn how to code from scratch, and anyone else that tells you otherwise is trying to trick you. Unless you go to a special class for it, self teaching yourself a new skill takes a lot of time and effort.

All you have to do is give yourself the motivation to keep pushing forward no matter what. I wish you the best in your coding journey.

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