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The Boot Camp Diaries Week 10: Breakthrough

“Don’t forget to check the cabinet above the refrigerator,” my partner says. I oblige, stretching up on my tip toes to open the (hopefully empty) cabinet we haven’t accessed in over a year. My heart sinks: inside is a row of mostly-full bottles of alcohol. In my early twenties, this would have been awesome. Age almost-thirty and the night before moving day, this is an unspeakable tragedy. But I do speak it, because now we have more heavy, fragile objects to pack.

Week 10 at Learn Academy means the beginning of group projects. I wasn’t worried about group assignments because my cohort has become so tight – sharing struggles and triumphs will do that to people. Whoever I was teamed up with, I knew it would be awesome, and I was right. The only thing I was worried about was being the weakest link on my team, especially because all of my after-class time was going to be consumed by packing and preparing to move, thanks to the lovely AVA Communities who priced us out of our apartment and then listed it for way less than we were paying. If they just hadn’t raised our rent they would’ve gotten more money, but whatever – I hate the housing situation in California and I REALLY hate sleazy housing rental companies, but that’s not what you’re here for.

As we began chipping away at the app our group decided to build, I had a very important revelation: LEARN Academy had allowed me to be lazy for nine weeks, in the best possible way. I didn’t have to devise my own curriculum, scour the web for learning materials that explained the same concept ten different ways, or spend days stuck on the same problem banging my head against the metaphorical (and occasionally not-so-metaphorical) wall. I was so afraid of falling behind that I asked questions right away. I got unstuck, sure, but asking a question and receiving the answer isn’t always the most practical way to learn something. When you have to do your own research and hunt for your own answers, you often stumble upon information and context that proves helpful, whether in the moment or later on when you’ve almost forgotten you read/watched/heard it. If you’re always asking “is this what I do next?” and being handed the answer, you don’t have the opportunity to screw up, read the error message, and figure out not only what comes next, but why, and what happens if you don’t do that thing next, and how to set yourself straight after the screw-up – all of which come in pretty handy eventually, I promise.

Doing my own research and slogging through difficult code during week 10 felt like going to the gym after a lengthy hiatus and stretching muscles that haven’t been used in a while: painful at first, and then empowering. Throughout the process my team offered support and encouragement. We didn’t rush each other, we helped each other when we got stuck, and we operated like a real dev team (I mean, I think… I haven’t been part of a real dev team yet, but you know what I mean… plus, it felt pretty legit). At first, building a full-fledged app that was both operational and decently attractive seemed way out of reach, but as the week progressed it became increasingly doable. I burned a considerable amount of time trying to get two React carousels working on one page (I didn’t make it happen – but someday I probably maybe hopefully will), and sure, there are some other things I wish I’d done differently, but this is still part of the learning process (thank goodness).

Sitting in the “nest”, the corner of the couch in our new apartment that is made extra cozy with the help of pillows and blankets and fairy lights, I’m overwhelmed by a feeling of gratitude. There will definitely be a long, sappy post thanking everyone at the end of this experience, but for now, I’m especially grateful for my project teammates, my amazing partner, and the movers who dragged our dresser-from-hell to the new apartment so I didn’t have to. Week 10 was an eye-opener in many ways, and now it is time for closed eyes, and bedtime, in preparation for more coding and project building tomorrow.

</ XOXO >

[Photo credit: Adi Goldstein via Unsplash]

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