Code On – A coder’s journey from oh no to ah ha!

There are few things in life more rewarding, and more elusive, than the “ah-ha!” moment.  It’s a mini epiphany that overloads you with dopamine as you revel in your own genius.

And yet, for three months I was in a room bursting with these little “ah-ha!”s, engendered by the smallest achievement like getting a for-loop to work, or a more abstract success like correctly architecting a user login flow – for this is life in a coding boot camp.

A humble beginning – joining a coding bootcamp

I joined the Elevation Academy Coding Bootcamp in March 2016 because I wanted to get a more formal exposure to front-end development. Most of what I knew in this field came from self-taught experiences and projects, and I figured that a proper course would solidify best practices as well as broaden my scope of familiarity with common frameworks.

So despite having already programed for almost five years, I was still able to enjoy several of my own ‘ah-ha!’ moments.

Now don’t get me wrong, not every moment of every coding bootcamp day is as peachy as a Disney ending. In fact, there are many times when you end up spending hours frustrated over the same error, only to realize you had forgotten to re-run the server.

During these periods of frustration you are sure to trek the thought-path of self-defeat and total mind-block, to the point where you wonder how you ever thought you could do this, who are you kidding, you don’t have a degree in this or the right type of mind. Right?

But that’s the greatest part about a coding bootcamp: Your only choice is to trek on. Not only did you pay good money to experience this, but your time is limited so you are compelled to move forward. Like life, the bootcamp moves on, and so do you.

 Trekking on – one coding bootcamp day at a time

And so if on Day 24 of the coding bootcamp you get stuck on recursive functions, then on Day 25 you’ll reaffirm your faith in yourself when you totally understand callbacks. And suddenly in Week 7 you’ll see a recursive function in action and think “oh, wait that’s just – ah ha, cool!,” and you’ll get it.

And through all these tribulations, it will be those little “ah-ha!” moments that keep you going, because once you get a taste for one then somewhere, deep inside of you a seed is planted.

This seed is filled with hope and self-conviction. It is a little Barack Obama deep in your subconscious that says, “Yes you can” when you start to doubt yourself. It’s a constant reminder that “hey, I figured out how to do that thing last time, and that was hard, why shouldn’t I be able to figure out this thing?” And because it’s your own conviction, you listen to it.

More than enjoying these moments alone though, you get to see the pure joy of others’ “ah-ha!”s. You see Rony emphatically press the enter key, and after a few seconds yell “yes!” and are encouraged, since just the other day he was struggling and now here he is reveling in his success.

Starting to code isn’t easy. The road is fraught with frustration, and you’ll only succeed with constant determination. But when you’re in an environment that encourages you to try, surrounded by successes big and small, it’s that much easier to code on.    A-Ha!