Like A Girl

Pushing the conversation on gender equality.

Code Like A Girl

How Learning to Code Changed My Habits (and Made Me a Better Person)

From being an aspiring artist to creating websites for entrepreneurs

Photo by ANDRIK LANGFIELD PETRIDES on Unsplash

I remember the exact words my Mom used to tell me: “Computers are going to ruin your life!

And at 10 years old, I believed her.

Because I had been that kid who was alone at home when her parents travelled, who grew up with her guy cousins, and one that loved computers more than any human.

Way back when, I had been afraid of learning to code because I could be so easily absorbed in it that I never made plans for anything else in my life.

Even to this day, I would be on my computer from 6 in the morning until falling asleep around midnight. It’s a habit I’ve kept since the third grade — and one I don’t think will go anytime soon.

But coding and working in tech has been a taboo subject in my family. It’s not something you easily enter, and it’s certainly very different from what women usually chose for their careers.

For so many years, I was afraid to code or be a woman in tech. And so I found other passions in life that aligned with the same values: problem solving, and building things.

Then on my third year as an undergrad, I started learning basic JavaScript. I was hooked.

Learning how to code changed my life forever. And it can do the same for you too.

It doesn’t matter if you plan to make this your career. Just… The idea of being able to make something — anything — from the confined space of your mind, to a virtual corner on the Internet is amazing, in itself.

Admittedly, I did have way too much fun with programming languages as I spent plenty of summers participating in Code Wars.

However, I also noticed how much I’ve changed as a person. Because when you learn how to solve problems and be patient to the extreme of: “ARGGHHH HOLY CRAP I CAN’T FIND THE BUG,” you tend to be more understanding of people and their frustrations.

And not only when it comes to people, but how I approach life as well. In three simple ways, here’s how coding changed me for the better:

1. I started seeing problems as puzzles and fixed them faster

When life gives you lemons, hand it over and dissect every piece of information until you can structure them accordingly. Or something like that.

One of the first habits I realised that had been broken involved my constant need to procrastinate and make problems big statements. In fact, the more I dove into other programming languages like Python, the more I started looking out for possible solutions along the way.

And when I made more mistakes, I started seeing things from a different perspective.

Because programming can be difficult when you create superlatives for everything under the sun. Instead, I opted to make my programs simple and expand them along the way.

This method hasn’t only made it easier to understand a new language, but to also fix my problems a little faster.

2. I grew to love art as much as numbers and equations

One of my first memories as a child was painting to my heart’s content. And to this day, I’ve always adored bringing out my Wacom tablet and learning how to improve my art. And so it can be a bit shocking to hear that coding has made the visual side of me a little jealous.

When I first tried out being a designer and front-end web developer, I was struck by how challenging it is to build your own website from scratch. Beyond the fancy tools and plug-ins, the core of your design and its implementation is your imagination.

I’ve been pretty bad at math since I began going to school. But coding isn’t some fancy algebra equation. It’s an immediate process with the right results (a.k.a don’t stress!). Once you have it down, you’d get used to doing calculations in your head.

Admittedly, I never thought I’d end up like this.

3. Coding taught me how to simplify things

I’ll make this short for you. Because you’re talking to a computer, you’ll have a “what you see is what you get” situation on your hands.

I used to be very frivolous in my stories, and always chose to use fancy words to explain myself. But now-a-days, I find myself surprised when I try to overdo a simple conversation.

Talking to a computer day-in, and day-out makes you want to cut to the chase. Not only in how you converse, but also how you decorate your house, and your approach to making decisions.

How has your life been after you learned to code, work in tech, or surrounded your world with it?

For me, I’m no longer the scared little girl who decided to hide behind a computer. Yet, I still find myself connected to it on most days (even without social media).

I’ve also become a little braver in chasing what I want and have stopped listening to what others want of me.

Learning how to code made me more empowered to do better, brighter things in the digital space. It gives me the chance to discover new people, companies, and systems that completely change the game.

I’m proud of where I’ve ended up. Even if it wasn’t somewhere I expected.

What’s your story?

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