Learning Priorities

I seem to continually forget something: This is my blog.

I shouldn’t be shy here. This is my space to express my feelings and my thoughts. Yes, it’s public and people can give their opinions in return, but I control what’s here. Of all internet spaces, I should never be uncomfortable. So long as I keep in line with WordPress’s policy, I should never feel it’s unsafe or embarrassing to write something here.

So, I won’t.

Lately, I have talked about my goals. While I have never enjoyed school, I enjoy learning (I can’t get over the irony of a place intended to support learning destroying the love of it), and I want to learn several subjects. Human languages, programming languages, science, math, design. The list goes on, but those are at the top. However, I’ve realized there is such a thing as too much learning. Or at least, too much in a short amount of time.

My 29th birthday is this year and I can’t get over this mental/emotional crisis that I am “late”. However, overwhelming myself won’t slow down time or help my mental stability. A new friend who is helping me learn a certain subject advised me to prioritize what I want to learn that will help me now versus later. My fiance and a different friend also gave me this advice. I can’t say I disagree with them. However, I have decided only on two priorities, and am struggling to choose a third.

What I decided so far:

  • Spanish. I’m not dumb enough to think I can advance my skills to almost native-like in one year. I couldn’t do in twenty-two years, despite exposure to the language, so it certainly won’t happen in one! But at the bare minimum, I want to become conversational. This is mostly because my (future) in-laws are Hispanic and some do not speak English (or not do not speak it well enough to be understood). I also want to avoid embarrassing myself. I tried to tell my fiance’s mom I loved her Christmas dinner by saying “Yo lo amo (I love it)”. Not only is this not linguistically correct (it should be “Me lo encanta”), but my pronunciation utterly sucked and she may have heard it as “Yo te amo”, which means “I love you”. I do love her as my (future) mother-in-law, but that was not what I wanted to say! I’d say “awkward” in Spanish, but I don’t remember that and I will not look it up right now (“embarazada” means “pregnant”, not “embarrassed”!).
  • JavaScript. Since I want to be a front-end developer, and I can’t seem to learn much more from HTML and CSS, I want to advance my very minimal skills in JavaScript. I am taking a boot camp that focuses on front-end development, so I will need to prioritize this anyway. Now, those aren’t the only languages used front-end. Some others are React, Angular, Vue, jQuery, and Swift. JavaScript can also be used for back-end. But it HTML, CSS, and JavaScript seem to be the main “trifecta”.

I want to say the third priority is Java. However, my only reason for learning at this time is for software development boot camp my job offers. If not for that, I would have never bothered to learn this language for the time being. Java is more commonly used for back-end development and mobile development, and I want to eventually learn the latter (which will probably go hand-in-hand with the former), it’s not my focus right now. If I don’t choose Java, my choice would be math. Specifically, pre-calculus since I plan to pursue a degree in computer science some years down the road. Of course, I can always change priorities.

In the end, my ultimate goal at the end of 2023 is to not be in the same position at work I am currently in. I want to prioritize whatever will get me out the fastest.

Pipe Dreams

That’s my new name for goals I have because that’s what most of them are. It’s always fun to dream. Usually, more fun than reality. Of course, one could ask why I keep making goals when I rarely stick to them. I chalk it up to my odd enjoyment of making lists.

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Not Old (Yet), Not Young

I’m 28. Maybe that isn’t old, but it certainly isn’t young either. Really, I stopped being honest about my age offline after I turned 26.

I talked a little before about teaching myself coding. The good news is there are a lot of community spaces for learners and newbies. The discouraging news is I find myself very outmatched in age. It seems in so many, if not all, of these spaces, everyone started coding at the age I was still carrying around a teddy bear.

Yes, yes, I know. “You’re never too old.” But figures of speech are just that. Figures of speech. I can never stop being reminded I wasted my youthful years doing… whatever I was doing that is wildly insignificant now. If God is real, when I die, I will ask why he didn’t give me better intuition as a small child. Seriously, why did I miss out on the intuition to build a necessary skill? Probably because I was stupid and wanted to build blocks, and adults let me so I would shut up and stop crying. *sigh*

Eh. Maybe that’s harsh (probably not), but if I had a child, I would absolutely get them started on coding and programming at as early an age as possible so they avoid this problem. Even if they grew to not want a career related to IT, they’d have a skill they can fall back on. That’s the one thing I miss about not having a child. I won’t have the pleasure of watching my child have a better and brighter future than I do. Granted, I’m fantasizing, but I know I do that a lot. I’m beginning to understand why some parents live through their kids. It’s tough to admit you don’t have the capacity/capability to reach your dreams, and your kid has better chances than you via youth. That’s a terrible thing to do to a kid, but I think I understand it.

Truthfully, I don’t think I am capable of learning because coding is such a humongous field, and IT never stops evolving. There will always be things to catch up on, so I have no idea at what point I could consider myself employable, if that point can arrive. Supposedly, it’s not about memorization, but I want to see how that holds up in an actual job. I feel like it doesn’t. But I’ve also known for a long time I’m not good at anything, so why am I talking like this is surprising? It’s not, but you get my drift. I mean, I’m good at finishing coursework, but so are kindergartners, so who cares? I want a skill most tiny children don’t have, not one most do.

Well, this quickly delved into a post of self-loathing. But it’s really honesty and trying to humor myself. I remember being asked what’s unique about me, and I answered I don’t know because I don’t know. Professionally, there is nothing unique about me. I work in a warehouse, I worked in retail, and I finished coursework. By the way, roughly 39% of the US population has a bachelor’s (not associate’s, which is what mine will be) degree, and it can still not be enough to qualify for anything. It really is little more than a piece of paper to bypass filters. Part of me feels like I’m getting it solely to prove I’m not a total idiot (of course, the two are not mutually exclusive).

Do I have any positivity to add to this post? I really don’t. I’m painfully aware my thirtieth birthday is coming sooner than I would like, and I’m simply glad there is no upcoming high school reunion.

Well, I can always achieve my dreams through fictitious means. And really, my only dream was financial stability. I didn’t even reach for the sky and I still fell flat. Ouch.

Don’t Just “Learn To Code”

It seems “learn to code” is the replacement for “get a job”.

Yes, I know its origins, but as of late, it’s become a response to almost anyone who complains about their current job and options (or lack of), especially during 2020.

Here’s the problem: coding sucks.

At least, if it’s only a means to an end.

It’s a lot more than merely “learn to code”. A mere few months of playing on freecodecamp.org isn’t enough. Devoting a single hour every day isn’t enough. Heck, completing every single lesson on the website isn’t enough (you have dozens more websites, hundreds of books, and thousands of videos to go!).

Being self-taught and making that profitable will require years and thousands of hours.

Frankly, that’s patience I do not have. Same reason I despise gen ed courses from community college.

I don’t believe so much as basic coding is a necessity if you don’t plan to do some kind of work with it. I still haven’t met anyone who used algebra beyond high school if their field didn’t require it.

Code because you’re genuinely interested, because you’re in love with it, because you want a career out of it. Please don’t throw yourself into a humongous, frustrating world because a random person on Reddit told you.

I made this mistake when I attended community college for the first time. I never wanted to attend right after high school anyway, but since my family wouldn’t shut up, I picked a degree that was supposed to be lucrative.

I dropped by the next semester. As did several of my friends who were pressured by their families into college.

I toy around with coding when I am bored and Pokémon has stopped amusing me. Even then, I do it for an hour at most. The truth is I have no desire to stare at a screen for 8 – 10 hours a day. Really, I already do that, but at least it’s not every second of my shift.

Sure, you could argue most people don’t love their jobs (I certainly don’t!), but most people don’t commit years of their life to studying to get a job they hate. Some do, but certainly not most.

If someone believes they would like coding and wants to try, I’d absolutely encourage them. But if they discover they don’t like it – as I did – that’s okay. “Everyone can code” has the same context as “everyone can hold a pencil and scribble something”. I can use extremely basic HTML. That’s coding. That’s all I’ll ever be able to do, and some people can’t do that much (my boyfriend, for example, thinks the HTML to make stylized text like bold and underline looks complicated, despite I typed it right in front of him; he can’t comprehend it).

Learn to code… if you want to.