Coding? Really?!

At the granular level, how I came to Programming was my choice but that doesn’t mean I consciously directed my life to crescendo, at this moment, at this particular juncture. Instead, I just arrived here at the intersection of serendipity and inclination.

After college+, I traveled and worked 6–12 month jobs overseas for a few years, before landing back in Florida, to help with Outward Bound’s adjudicated-youth program. I loved the Project Step program — solid(!) idealistic young do-gooders all — but the pittance, and 18 months of lightning storms and hurricanes, solid walls of mosquitos, less than 300’ of topography and 30-day canoe convoys paddling with 11 adjudicated boys and 2 other instructors down the tea-colored Suwanee, Withlacoochee, St. Johns and Georgia’s Altamaha… I grew burnt in the Sunshine State.

So, identifying something that gave me fulfillment (struggling alongside troubled youth), plus promises of better financial compensation, I arrived in Utah (huh?!), and began my next 15 years of “wilderness therapy” (which is a wealthier kid’s version of Project STEP – though they honestly come with other hardships), instructing, field directing and finally marketing the program I helped build, but didn’t own. When the company unwound and my job as “company mascot” (Outreach Director) evaporated, I found myself anxiously adrift, and quickly committed to “retooling” for another long career!

That’s why I decided to learn software development. To be totally honest, I actually fell for the garish parade of unscrupulous marketing that one ‘can learn coding in 3 months’ and ‘make 6 figures starting out, maybe even with Google or Facebook!” I’m relatively smart, and I like computers’ digital decisiveness; after 15 years living in the greys of therapeutic programs, I wanted the concrete black and white certainty of binary. Plus, the knowledge and confidence that jobs are waiting is enticing.

It’s much harder than I thought.

I like the collaboration of this program’s community. I’m old school enough to want the traditional back&forth of a lively topic rippling through a cohort and inspiring discourse. Learning the esoteric logic of code is terribly hard, and coding alone is still harder. It’s discouraging, and deflating, to not know how to look up to find answers because I don’t know exactly how I am stuck. That’s what stuck is! Paralysis. That’s where colleagues are so helpful to me. There are lots of folks in my boat, having the same confusions and feeling the same embarrassment and … feeling just as stupid and incapable at times. There are rare but satisfying times I can help them, too.