Code Bootcamp: Getting Stuck is an Inevitable Part of Learning Code (and That's OK!)

GIF of an Animated person frantically typing code
Me at 3 am trying to pass lab tests on enumerables…and failing

As a student at Flatiron School, preparing for the beginning of the cohort, I hit a massive roadblock in my pre-work: enumerables. I felt a wave of overwhelming anxiety and self-doubt as I tried my hardest to understand.

I remember trying to grasp the concept of enumerables, thinking I had to know every part of enumerables right at that moment. I became increasingly frustrated as I stayed up into the late hours of the night, frantically scouring the web for articles and tutorials explaining enumerables. I refused to take a break, which, in hindsight, is the worst thing anyone in that situation could do. That was the first of many times I felt legitimately stuck, many times to the point of taking it personally, feeling like I’m ‘too stupid,’ and I’m the only student in the cohort ‘not getting it.’ To my surprise, I found out many of my peers shared similar experiences. Everyone gets stuck on something, whether it be a lab, a hard-to-understand concept, an elusive missing comma, or wrongly pluralized word, hiding deep in their code. For me, the key to dealing with all this was: a radical change in my perspective.

Now, over a month into coding bootcamp at Flatiron School D.C., I’m incredibly familiar with getting stuck, sometimes feeling inadequate, feeling perpetually overwhelmed. The difference is, now, I don’t view getting stuck like a huge negative, catastrophic event. I’ve begun to accept that the core principle of learning means you start with little to no knowledge of the material taught to you. During the learning process, some topics can be legitimately difficult to grasp at first, and inevitably you will get stuck.

Spoiler alert: As long as you’re a developer, you will get stuck at times

Photo by Arif Riyanto on Unsplash

The fact that you feel stuck is not, in any way, an indication of your ‘inadequate intellect,’ but instead a sign you are building mastery. The feeling of pride I got after finally grasping enumerables, which seemed incomprehensible at first, made me reconsider what it means to feel stuck. I knew I could keep pushing forward in my pursuit to become a developer. This rapid cycle of feeling lost and then feeling like a genius (for a minute) indicates growth as a developer, one step at a time.

Notebook with writing “You are never done learning” GIF
Notebook with writing “You are never done learning” GIF
Developers never ‘know it all,’ learning is a life-long process of growth

I have mixed feelings about this process of learning code at Flatiron, I love how far I’ve grown as a developer in such a short period, and I love coding. But at times, I can get overwhelmed and frustrated with how difficult immersive coding boot camp can be. It’s dialectical; both are true. I feel like as I grow as a developer, I grow as a person in many respects. Struggling leads to growth in some way or another; whether it be growing as a developer, or growing as a person. If I can get readers to take away anything from this post (especially people learning to code): it’s ok to get stuck, it’s ok if you don’t understand something at first, and it’s normal to feel overwhelmed at times. These are all indicators that you’re building mastery, one step at a time, and that you are capable of overcoming stuck-points in the future.

Full-stack developer. Alumna of Flatiron School's Software Engineering Immersive bootcamp. Portfolio: https://tiffany-codes.com/

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