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After Bootcamp: Taking A Break From Coding

notfocaccia profile image Alicia Fasciocco ・3 min read

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You might have seen this title and thought:

At the beginning of May, I graduated from Flatiron School. It was an exciting (and confusing) time. The high of passing my final project quickly gave way to feeling that I had somehow duped myself and my teachers. In the week that followed, I struggled to add a simple feature to my project before abandoning the idea. I was careening towards burnout on a bicycle that had its training wheels taken off long before I was ready. There was still so much I didn't know how to do. How could I possibly call myself a developer, an engineer, a coder?

Beyond the feelings of uncertainty around what I was capable of working on next, my attention began to feel split between coding and something else I needed to get done. I wanted to keep learning by building. I started reading through docs, committed to a coding challenge, and worked through some tutorials. I was chasing the excitement of getting something to work to counteract feelings of aimlessness, but I was not fully invested in anything because I was doing too much.

I had spent ten months learning to code with no real break. During that time, I was working a full time job and relocated from New York City to a small upstate town. The truth is, although I was inspired to keep the momentum going, I hadn't learned how to thoughtfully carve out time to build things in a way that worked for me.

When you adhere to bootcamp deadlines, you are able to get a ton of coding done in a short amount of time, but you sacrifice some of the deep understanding required to build mindfully. In yoga, you finish your practice in Savasana, or corpse pose. In corpse pose, you lie still, letting thoughts float by and sealing in the good things you just did for your body and mind. I had not taken a "coding Savasana"--my new knowledge had not yet had the space to settle in.

At the beginning of June, I took a pause. For seven days, I didn't touch a line of code. I woke up without a bug on my mind, spent the mornings reading books, jotted down ideas, rested, watched TV without guilt, and spent focused time on other things without a split mind.

Though I had never really stopped doing other things I loved throughout bootcamp, there was always a deadline or project humming in the background. Now due dates are determined by me and that makes coding all the more creative and exciting! For me, it helps to make coding goals smaller. It's the difference between "Today, I will get the search feature to work" vs. "TODAY, I WILL FINISH THE ENTIRE APP!" One leads to thoughtful planning, while the other one leads to negative self talk. It's true that I will likely feel distracted by my latest project, and that is what makes me a developer, an engineer, a coder.

PS. This handy quiz helps me every time I am worried I might not have what it takes:
http://amiarealdeveloper.com/

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notfocaccia profile

Alicia Fasciocco

@notfocaccia

Mostly remote HR Business Partner. Flatiron School Student. Collage Artist. A person with an early bedtime. she/her

Discussion

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im not a fan of the bootcamp program. It teaches students that burnout syndrome is natural.. Its not. A pragmatic programmer is lazy, and follows the law of the farm rule.. small daily incremental improvements.. Some days i write 1 line of code other days 100k. And some days i just delete shit, cuz i can. and it feels good. The point here is to try to find your rhythm that is greater than code. Your primary goal is to make minimum progress everyday.

I strictly follow the bushido code of the samuri which interestingly is parellel with kung fu and coding. Computer science is an art form more akin to developing a beautiful painting and not completing a algebra.

study.com/academy/lesson/bushido-d....

Have a great weekend :)

 

Thank you so much for your response. I completely agree that CS is an artistic process. I’m enjoying it so much more now that I am deciding when and HOW MUCH I code. I love the way you described it—some days deleting stuff is enough. :) Hope you have a great weekend.

 

Always! Thank you for asking. Honestly as long as you're having fun doing what you do, that's all that matters. Humans have a funny way of setting invisible barrier by manifesting what they cant do; rather then focusing on what they can do.

If i could give one piece of advice to a greenhorn, is that your mind is limited by infinity. There is not limit to how much you can and will learn. When i started coding basic and c on my AT&T x86 and VT100 when i was 9; I never would have imagined that i would land jobs making video games, GPUs, or quantum computers, and learn 30+ something languages.. GTFO. i would have said.

Just find fun stuff to work on and everything else falls into place..

GL;HC;
~z

 

DEAR LORD thank you so much for this, Alicia. I graduated my bootcamp a few nights ago and am basically watching Call Me By Your Name over and over, making smoothies, crying, trying to figure out if coding is even something I want to DO, etc. This made me feel worlds better, thank you one hundred million times.

 

I’m so glad this was helpful! Those first few weeks were unexpectedly pretty awful. I promise it gets better (especially if you take a few days off). Also, YES to binging Call Me By Your Name. Please let me know how things evolve for you!