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Back to Learning to Code after 2 (Unintentional) Years Away

Hi, I'm Misty! πŸ‘‹

I've been processing a lot of feelings about coding - my whole life, but especially in the last few years. I think the best way to continue to process whatever feelings come up, and also continue to make progress on my coding journey, is to throw myself into Learning In Public and blog through it all.

It's tempting to blog everyday, especially as I'm going through #100DaysOfCode. But, I'm not sure that's going to be sustainable for me. I'm going to do weekly summaries instead. (And feel free to follow me on Twitter if you want to see daily updates!)

My Coding Journey, So Far

I dabbled in HTML and maybe the teensiest bit of CSS in the late 90s and early 2000s (hello, Angelfire and Geocities!). I didn't think that version of Front End Development was something that could be an actual job, and even if Software Engineering was, surely that wasn't a job meant for someone like me (meaning, not a man and not a math prodigy), so I didn't pursue any computer science courses at university. I ended up with a degree in Philosophy, which, you know, not exactly practical? But also, I'm really glad I took the classes that I did. I just kind of also wished I had squeezed in some CompSci somewhere in there, if only to see what could be possible.

A couple years after graduating, I landed a job with my current company and have now been here for 16.5 (!!!) years. The gravity of that longevity and stability has been a particular obstacle for me in planning a career transition in general, but especially into tech. There’s a lot of comfort in the familiarity of my current job, even though it’s never been something I look forward to (and often actively dread).

I started my coding journey (as in forked over some cash and sat down to actually learn some coding), in early May 2020. With the COVID-19 Pandemic thrust upon us, it felt like a good time to make a change! πŸŽ‰

Except, I stalled out really, really badly. πŸ™

My pandemic experience wasn't (and still isn't) of the work-from-home sort, so I became frustrated with trying to juggle learning to code, and my in-office job, AND a pandemic, AND long overdue social justice issues coming to the forefront nationwide. It was simply too much for my capacity at the time. In October 2020, I tweeted that I would come back to my #100DaysOfCode challenge at some other time.

Fast forward through nearly two more years which included buying a home, moving (twice, ugh), turning 40, dealing with some intense personal issues and medical issues, and here I am starting over with my #100DaysOfCode challenge and reviewing/restarting my Skillcrush courses.

To be honest, I'm terrified.

But I've finally hit the point where I'm more terrified of staying exactly where I am than trying to transition to a new career in tech. Even when that new career in tech will come with a whole host of new failures and anxieties to confront and work through, new situations and working environments to acclimate to, new people to get to know, not to mention the new concepts, new ways of thinking, new languages, and new frameworks to learn. Whew!

7 Days Down

Taking the leap last week (on a Thursday, of all days!) to finally re-commit to the #100DaysOfCode challenge, and my Skillcrush courses was exactly what I needed. Making that commitment to myself and my future is really important to me.

And it feels pretty great to have 7 consecutive days of coding to look back on!

I've dealt with a fair number of blows to my confidence over the last few years (including bailing on my initial #100DaysOfCode challenge after 14 days πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ). I'm hoping to develop some momentum with learning to code, and this coding challenge in particular, so that I can build on these daily/weekly accomplishments.

I am hopeful that writing about the process, and sharing it in particular as a way to Learn in Public, will enable me to move through obstacles I've encountered in the past.

So, throughout this first week I’ve managed:

βœ… to stay consistent! I’ve reviewed, studied, and coded every day.
βœ… to refamiliarize myself with Git and GitHub.
βœ… to (sort of) engage with the tech community on Twitter.
βœ… to sign up for various websites/services I expect to need, or expect will be helpful throughout this journey.
βœ… to start a new project that I’ve had in mind for at least 2 years.
βœ… to write this blog post!

Absolutely all of the above felt impossible two weeks ago!

I’m excited to see what slides from the impossible to possible column after another week.

I'm curious if anyone else has gone through this period of re-establishing coding as a priority in your life after time away. Have you come back to coding after a long absence? If so, how is it going for you?

Top comments (4)

jonlee1546 profile image
Jonathan Lee

I know how you feel! I recentlyβ€”2 months nowβ€”started back learning to code after more than a year off. My mental health was in a very poor state. I had no choice but to take care of me first. While I do not experience the same challenges as a female getting into IT, I never saw myself as becoming a developer due to socioeconomic reasons and my past battles with my mental health. However, at 47, I too am at a place where I am frightened by both my status quo and pursuing a developer job.

2 months into this deal again and I know the time off was absolutely the correct choice as I am more capable mentally to pursue my goals. I was deeply encouraged by your return! Thank you for taking the time to write your experience. I needed to read it!

mistydb profile image
Misty • Edited

Thank you, Jonathan! I'm so glad this was helpful for you.

I'm also glad to hear you're back to learning to code. I absolutely understand the need for a break, though! My break was beneficial to me as well, and like you, I feel more capable to pursue my developer goals now because of it.

Kudos and good luck!

jacobvarney profile image

Hello Misty!

I'm glad to see your Twitter blogging (Twlogging?) is going strong! I like the idea of having a character limit: it seems like it would make the actual act of writing a full-on blog post less daunting.

I didn't think that version of Front End Development was something that could be an actual job

This is entirely too relatable. Career counseling in high school did not prepare me adequately to know what careers there were related to my dabbling on a TI-89.

I'm curious if anyone else has gone through this period of re-establishing coding as a priority in your life after time away. Have you come back to coding after a long absence? If so, how is it going for you?

Yessssss. I have a pretty bad tendancy to go way to hard either making time for or making a plan for things. Then, when I get overwhelmed I would tell myself "I'll just get gud at my current job and find something satisfying there". But, coding keeps calling me back.

This time, I'm focused on spending at least 100 hours of coding or learning about programming over the next year. It's not super ambitious and it may not land me a position anywhere, but it's small and easy to keep track of.

Good luck Misty!

mistydb profile image

Thank you, Jacob!

It's fun because the more I expose myself to techie things (podcasts, Twitter, CodeNewbie) the more I realize how wide and varied the tech field is. I hope more people these days can get that exposure, to any careers they may be interested in, sooner.

I also have a tendency to dive in head first and then get overwhelmed. Oops! I'm hoping little bits here and there instead of trying to do marathon coding sessions on weekends or in the evening will help keep me going without burning me out.

100 hours of coding over the next year is a great goal! Small and easy to track, like you said. I find those sorts of goals to be confidence-boosting as well, which then turns into being able to hit more goals, and so on. A nice way to build a goal-achieving engine for yourself.

Good luck, Jacob!