Learning how to be bad at things


This post could alternately be called “Learning how to learn things,” or something like that. I’ve recently realized that pretty much all my life, I’ve been bad at learning things.

If something doesn’t come quickly and easily to me, historically, I’ve said to myself, “Okay, you suck at this. Might as well give up now.”  So I’ve given up on a LOT of things in my 32 years. (Pretty sure there were no TED talks about grit, resiliency, growth mindsets and all that when I was growing up in the 90s. Those might have been helpful.)

Part of the reason I got into journalism as a career was because I just naturally gravitated toward writing and communicating. Not saying journalism isn’t hard work — it can be very hard work. But the basics came naturally to me, so I stuck with it.

I think most people are probably at least a little bit this way. I mean, nobody wants to constantly be struggling, so to some degree we all do what comes naturally. But I got interested in coding because I wanted to challenge myself, and do something that doesn’t come easily to me.

So here I am, working on JavaScript, making mistake after mistake, trying to get past that voice in my head saying, “Okay, you suck at this. Might as well give up now.” Part of my brain is giving me reasons why I’ll never learn this and shouldn’t even try, but part of my brain is wondering what could happen if I just stick with it a little longer.

If you’re wondering about the screenshot above, it was from a coding challenge in one of the Treehouse courses I’m working on. The challenge was to create a three question quiz, check the answers, and tell the player how many questions they got right.

I still haven’t written anything that will do that. Quite honestly, I’m kind of frustrated with it now. But while I’m a beginner, I’m trying to remind myself to celebrate the small things I have gotten right.

I created a two-dimensional array containing the quiz questions that looked pretty good. I even know what the heck a two-dimensional array is. So that’s something. I also learned to find the JavaScript console in Chrome and use that to find a glaring typo. It’s in the screenshot above. Can you spot it? Don’t answer that question. Or at least be gentle if you do.

So anyway. I’ll keep trying to make this damn quiz work. And I’ll keep reminding myself, “You’re learning. You are not bad at this. You are not bad at this. You’re learning.”


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