A User’s Guide to Not Knowing

I spent a lot of time over the last three weeks wondering what I would write into this digital void. Having spent the last bit of time diving into the basics of React JS, I was searching for any sort of nugget of information gold that I could uncover and reveal to my thousands of followers. I’d imagine I would take a screenshot of my big brain code, which in turn would give me the external validation I craved. ‘ I’m so smart’ I would think to myself. Celebrations all around! Yes.

Actually, I started off pretty strong. State? Easy! Props? To me, for sure. Components? Please! I had this.

…Until I didn’t have it- and then I really didn’t have it. I became so frustrated with myself for not knowing, and then at others for knowing things I didn’t. I got caught up into what my peers were asking and started panicking: ‘Should I be learning Redux right now? Routes?? ComponentDid….What? How dare you’.

With not knowing came immediate feelings of isolation. I felt like I was being left behind. I became so frustrated with React and my (perceived) incompetence that I just stopped digging any deeper. Instead, I turned my attention to other things that felt good. I dug into the world of Web Audio API- something I didn’t know existed, and learned how to have my browser make sounds. I (finally) sat down and taught myself how to use Ableton Live. I made more art. I filled my cup. I had fun.

browser beep boop
*draws in confused*

I still don’t know anything more about ReactJS, and that’s okay. I went from never touching React, to passing a code challenge in the timeframe of two weeks, and that’s super cool! An accomplishment!

I did it!

I was able to turn my frustrations around when I realized that it was alright not to understand things right away. That, ultimately, me not understanding React on a deep level in a matter of three weeks, or having the best project in Phase 2, was of little to no consequence on my silly little life in this silly little simulation. I knew how to learn, how to ask questions, and knew when it was time to walk away when things became frustrating. In fact, after voicing my concerns to other people, I quickly realized I wasn’t the only one who felt this exact same way! I took a lot of comfort in that. Normalize not knowing.

React isn’t going anywhere any time soon, and I’m positive we will have plenty of chances to reacquaint ourselves and learn more about each other. Who knows! We might even kiss. While being in a coding bootcamp is indeed rigorous, it is also only 15 weeks long (as I get ready for my 7th week… hello?). Learning how to succeed in a new industry is absolutely a marathon, not a sprint. Be nice to yourself. And don’t worry about what other people are doing — they aren’t on your path. Happy coding!




Research scientist turned aspiring software developer

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Jo Siciliano

Jo Siciliano

Research scientist turned aspiring software developer

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