Unfixing My Mindset

Last week, I spent a lot of time talking about coding without actually coding. It was easier. Less fun.

This week, it’s scary as hell and way more fun. Less talk, more code.

Feel free to replace “code” with whatever passion you call yours.

Liking something takes time. Loving something takes even more time. And most somethings don’t care if you’re spending time daydreaming about them. That time doesn’t count.

What counts is the time you spend doing the thing. That’s the time you can get lost in, if the thing is right. That’s the time that helps you become a better you.

Khalil Gibran said, “Work is love made visible.” Today I loved programming. I worked my ass off at it.

I spent more than half my study time feeling stuck and helpless, but somewhere in there I managed to come up for air and write a Roman numeral translator from scratch, no peeking at the book or anything.

It had been days since I’d peeked at a working solution, and my code was unnecessarily clunky and redundant. But it was my code, and I knew why every single line of it was there.

I didn’t have to memorize anything to make it.

I am not a wizard with his nose in a spellbook. I am not the “smart” kid who’s good at memorizing Spanish phrases but can’t actually speak Spanish, struggling to reconcile a perfect GPA with a sneaking suspicion that he hasn’t really learned a thing.

I am not a computer person.

I am a tinkerer with his hands in a frenzy. I am a freestyle rapper with an ASCII pen and a pad made out of pixels and a microphone cord wrapped around a command line I can’t understand yet, tangling me up as I try to amplify my ideas to GitHub.

I am a learning person. And I can learn anything if I have time, desire, and permission to ask questions.

I’m becoming less afraid of failing, less afraid of feeling stuck and overwhelmed, less afraid to start something I’m not sure I can finish.

Today’s ineptitude is tomorrow’s incubation. The day after that, it’s inspiration. I can come back later and punch the gut of whatever problem’s knocking the wind out of me now. I know this because two days ago used to be a today, and then that today turned into this one, and this one is the one where I finally understood what was mysterious two days ago.

My goal for the rest of the week is to stay hopelessly lost in the current information while seeking refuge in the information I used to be hopelessly lost in. The franticness of it keeps my momentum up. And even when I’m taking the “safe” route, I’m still deepening my knowledge of new concepts.

I know I’m supposed to be taking it easy before Phase 0 starts, but I haven’t asked this much of my brain since I was in middle school. It feels like waking up and full-body stretching after a four hour nap. It feels like finally unwiring the need to equate success with correctness. It feels like being free to screw things up without losing any ground at all. It feels good.

Next week, I may slow to a jog, but there’s nothing like a few good wind sprints to remind me that my absolute limit…isn’t.





    1. Thanks! “Frenzy” is definitely the right word. I need to remind myself to take breaks so I don’t go overboard. My wife gets sick of hearing about code all the time.

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