Like A Girl

Pushing the conversation on gender equality.

Code Like A Girl

Discovering my Coding Brain

For years now, “Learning to code” has long been a goal of mine. It was shapeless, amorphous, lurking in my mind alongside “learn guitar” and “stop freaking out every time I have to call someone”.

No movement yet on those last two.

When I was a kid, my uncle taught me some Visual Basic and C++, but I just wasn’t that into it. Now I can say I wish I’d stuck with it, but I have to live with kid-Iris’ bad choices.

Growing up, I was really into English and music. I got stuck into this idea of “I’m a writer. I’m not good with computers or math.” I told myself that my brain simply wasn’t built for coding.

When I went back to university briefly after a stint as a journalist, I studied communications and marketing while my then-partner studied web development and design. I remember looking over his shoulder at lines of multi-coloured code, intimidated but intrigued, asking him to explain it to me.

Not for me,” I told myself.

I spent a good couple of years working in marketing and comms, but I started to feel that being “a writer” wasn’t enough. At least, not for me.

I started to re-evaluate my brain. Maybe I’m not a natural mathematician, but I have a knack for proofreading and editing, an eye for detail, picking out tiny errors in the written word. I’m also an avid knitter, and what is coding if not weaving together a long thread of little individual pieces into something awesome and functional?

Sounds silly, I know. But if ever there was a counterpart hobby to coding, it’s definitely knitting. True fact.

I tried out a tutorial on freeCodeCamp, then another… and what do you know? Maybe I’m made of the right stuff after all. I get frustrated with my slow learning pace, but I’m proud of my own tenacity. I’ve been truly surprised by my response to coding and how much I’m enjoying it, even as I start to dig into stuff which I find truly challenging.

It’s early days, but so far I’ve knocked out HTML5, CSS (+ Bootstrap), Java, and I’m working on JavaScript. I’m definitely drawn to front-end development but I would like to delve into Ruby and Python, just to see how the pieces lock together.

My ridiculous pie-in-the-sky dream is to create games one day. Right now that seems… entirely unattainable. But who knows?

For months, I’ve been learning without direction. Every few days I would log into freeCodeCamp or Codecademy and muddle through a tutorial, enjoy the warm glow of dopamine as the “Congratulations!” message popped up onscreen, then watch another episode of The Good Place. One day on Medium, I stumbled upon the #100DaysOfCode challenge, thought “to hell with it,” and signed up. I’m on day 39 and counting.

I’m also very excited to now be taking part in the Code Newbie Challenge (#CNC2018), joining an enthusiastic community of beginner programmers from around the world to Start Coding, Code More, Blog More, or Get A Job (those are the names of the four challenges, I’m not just capitalising those words for fun!).

At this stage, my goals are modest. I would like to firm up my grasp of HTML, CSS and JavaScript, start building my own websites without a tutorial guiding my steps, and finish off my current batch of certifications and challenges.

I’m still so new to this. I don’t have a portfolio or a single project to my name. Yet. What I do have is a laptop, time, and a stubborn attitude.

I’m grateful to have found a community of badass self-taught coding newbies at all levels who are fumbling along and high-fiving each other over the internet, offering encouragement and advice and just keeping on. I’m damn proud to call myself one of them.

Hello, world. Let’s do this.

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Hi, hello! Thanks for reading my blather. If you like, pop on over to my blog, Kia Ora Fukushima, or say hello on Twitter. I’d love to chat.