Living a digital nomad lifestyle is fun, but not as fun when your travel partner broke his foot right next to the beach and you are stuck in a tropical paradise unable to enjoy it to the fullest for three weeks. Mind you, this is not a post about travel.
During the hiatus from travel, I got to thinking about career transition — how one enters an unknown territory and succeeds.
A few days ago my friends in Boston graduated. My Facebook feeds were flooded with graduation photos, congrats messages and status like “an old chapter ends, a new chapter begins”. I was in that boat six months ago. I graduated with a degree too expensive and prestigious that I was afraid if I didn’t use it, my four years in college would have been wasted for nothing. The idea of inefficient use of time made me feel uncomfortable.
But “nothing will ruin your 20’s more than thinking you should have your life together already.” So I left my very first job at a startup in London after a few months, and decided to embark on a nomadic lifestyle with my partner in crime, who happens to be an awesome developer. In a million years it never crossed my mind that I would be dating someone whose life is surrounded by software, high-ordered functions, frameworks, Hacker News, let alone learning how to code.
You know what many of us think about when we think about programmers: geeky, nerdy, math genius, awkward, smelly, and not-for-anyone. Stereotyping is cancerous and it keeps one away from experiencing many wonderful things in life. Funny thing is the more skeptical and curious I was about programming, the more I wanted to give it a go. It could be a disaster. It could be a game changer. It’s like online dating. It can be very messy, but it can also be very exciting.
A few weeks into our travel, I started Codecademy.
Chapter 1: OK got it!
Chapter 2: OK got it!
Chapter 3: OK got it!
Chapter 4: OK… maybe I got some of it?
Chapter 5: Hmmm OK?!
Chapter 6: WTF is this for beginners?
Chapter 7: var me = “Give up”;
Somewhere between sleeping and waking, I found myself writing loops and recursive functions thinking I’m about to marry a wrong career. And every day I woke up feeling like I just got out of a terrible break-up and had to start a new life all over again. I was too ambitious. I wanted to create a website with brizillion features. This hurt my learning process. I had a difficult time breaking things into small pieces and structure them. Very often my impatience got in the way. Add doubts, frustration and confusion, it would be the perfect recipe for a disaster.
Let’s start working on small projects, like counting numbers, getting your current location and showing it on a map, or making Adventurific.
Let’s watch lectures on YouTube.
Let’s do some Codewars’ challenges.
Let’s annoy your partner with all your silly questions like why this function needs to return something and the other doesn’t.
Then things got a little better, and the impatient me plunged into a more serious project.
Traveling runs deep in my blood and I always wanted to make a website to showcase my travel experiences. I could simply upload an album or two on Facebook or Instagram, but it wouldn’t be as fun. Plus, what could be a better way of practicing my programming skills. As a result, A Movable Trip was born. It’s nothing too fancy, but it is such a joy to be able to bring your idea into life.
Maybe I will wake up tomorrow and get confused all over again. It’s like an itch I can’t seem to get rid of because scratching it feels too good. But as long as I can experience this sheer happiness and fulfillment from creating and building something, anything is possible.
These days I’m learning to take it slow. Give myself time. Alternate learning materials before I get too overwhelmed, and start swearing and making my mood real sour. If I don’t get it today, it’s OK. I will probably get it tomorrow while shaving my legs in the shower. If I can upgrade some features, great! If not, no sweat. The point is not to rush.
A Movable Trip could be the beginning of a life-changing experience, and I hope you enjoy it.
sara: Love it Emilee! Keep scratching because it looks great ;) Sara