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The Boot Camp Diaries Week 5: The Introvert’s Challenge

This week honestly flew by. I know we learned databases, and I could even list out a few commands, but I couldn’t tell you anything about what I wore or had for lunch or did after class on any given day. I think my most significant discovery was finally finding the perfect ratio of coffee to almond milk, and then having the sense to heat that almond milk in a mug in the microwave before adding it to said coffee so that rather than starting cold and getting colder, it starts warm. Oh, and just a hint of cinnamon – perfection.

Let’s talk about navigating the boot camp experience as an introvert. In my professional life I work remotely most days of the week. Even when I worked at an office, I spent large chunks of the day with my head down, in the zone, just doing my thing. At LEARN Academy, we pair program, which means working closely and communicating with another human being for the majority of the day. That is a big transition.

In addition to the energy drain that results from performing complex problem-solving and trying to cram as much new information into your mind as possible, we introverts also must contend with the exhaustion brought about by interacting with other people. Not that there’s anything especially taxing about the members of my cohort – they’re all lovely people, supportive, funny, kind, the works. If you’re also an introvert, then you know, it isn’t who they are, or how they are, it’s simply that they are. The necessity to be “on”, to speak, to not burst into tears when you can’t figure something out, all of it requires a vast reserve of energy that I, for one, am not used to needing.

Self-care has become a buzzword on social media, but if you can stop your eyes from rolling long enough to read this paragraph, I’d just like to say that it really is important to take active, conscious steps to replenish your energy at the end of the day. For me, that takes the form of putting on my comfiest sweatpants and mentally checking out for a little while. Sometimes I have energy for the gym, sometimes I don’t, and I don’t beat myself up on the days that I don’t. Sometimes I drink a glass of wine and browse Reddit. Sometimes I watch YouTube videos and have mashed potatoes for dinner. Some nights I take a shower and use my special loofah with the glittery gold ribbon running through it and feel extra clean and sparkly. But that’s just me.

Any time you experience upheaval, a major change in your schedule and/or lifestyle, it’s important to check in with yourself. In the past I would push myself to the edge of sanity trying to handle as much as possible without a break, but I have since recognized that not only is that an unhealthy way to handle change, it’s also not very conducive to learning. Part of the commitment I made to myself when I made the choice to join this program was to give myself the absolute best chance of success I could, and that means safeguarding my energy and taking steps to improve my ability to focus, absorb, and retain knowledge. My advice to you, if you are considering doing a boot camp, is to make a similar commitment and take steps to take care of yourself throughout the process. That may look different for you than it does for me – maybe shiny bath implements aren’t your cup of tea, and that’s cool (but like… why not?), but find something simple that brings you joy and makes you feel refreshed, because trust me, you’re going to need it.

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[Photo credit: Adi Goldstein via Unsplash]

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