Hopefully this can help someone starting out

So this is my first post here on FCC, I have been working through the curriculum in solitude for 3 months and have just finished up the react front end framework segment. I have read through a lot of posts in this section and have felt a great deal of identity with some of what I have read.

Around 3 months ago now, I stumbled across freeCodeCamp in the middle of the somewhat erratic decision to do something new and interesting with my life. I went through various options such as Digital Marketing, trying e-commerce, and then I came across a video on youtube talking about coding.

Honestly at the time I was not naive to what coding was, but at the same time I couldn’t have been further from understanding what coding was. Nonetheless, it caught my attention and I did a bit of digging around. Then I found freeCodeCamp.

At the start the html and css stuff well, it just seemed so overwhelming, I looked at the length of the curriculum and was so focussed on how far I was from the end that I really beat myself up quite harshly at the start. I would tell myself things like “You are getting stuck here and this is being described as the easy bit on all the things you read”, “How on earth do I expect to learn how to code if I cant even understand the basics”.

Despite this I pushed every day, probably a bit harder than I should have, it became a bit of an obsession for me, I would wake up, go through the courses, if I got stuck with something I would go to MDN, or do a google search of the concept and read about it, truly try to understand it before moving forward. This was hard at first, honestly at the start I had so much doubt about the right way to learn so on and so forth.

I got through the HTML and CSS relatively quickly, and then came Javascript. This was where I hit my first major dent in confidence. When I started the basic sections it seemed really simple, but then some of the more difficult concepts started to be introduced and I honestly could barely understand the question written in plain English, never mind the code that was on the screen in front of me. At this point I realized I would need to start looking stuff up.

Off I went to stack overflow, MDN, the usual suspects, but again the same issue presented itself. I could recognize the keywords, but I didn’t understand what they meant, I could read the English on SO but I couldn’t for the life of me get my head around the code that was presented in the answers.

Around this time I had a real moment of doubt, the sad thing about this looking back was that my reaction at the time was that it must be that “FCC is too hard”. " They don’t help explaining things enough. " Looking back now I can see how naive that mentality was. During this time of misguided frustration I flirted with the other platforms available. Sailed through the easy stuff again but hit the same brick wall with the same concepts once again.

I moved back and forth like this for a couple of weeks, and honestly made very little progress, I didn’t understand anymore than when I first got stuck, and I’d just wasted 2 weeks repeating stuff that wasn’t improving my understanding.

Again at this stage for me I was outwardly externalizing my responsibility in all of this.

It was at this point I accepted that I must do something to understand these concepts in a bit more depth so that when I came to them in FCC that I could learn how to put them into practice and what they were used for.

I found a resource “Javascript.info” and grafted through that from start to finish. I spent 12-15 hours daily for 3 weeks to get through that. I am not saying this is what is needed, but it was the time I had on my hands and so I just went for it.

After completing this I came back to freeCodeCamp, and honestly the lessons really helped reinforce my understanding. The course was no longer frustrating but was exhilarating. In the following weeks I managed to get Javascript ticked off and really felt for the first time that I had made actual progress.

Next came the front end libraries and I felt on top of the world. I was going through concepts and ideas that I understood and were presented in a different way. All the way up to React.

Honestly I felt once again that the hurdles were never ending, every time I would jump over one, a bigger one was waiting to hit me in the face. So rather than forcing my way through, I worked through the basic stuff until I was getting to a point where the concepts were too hard for me to get my head around, and then repeated what I did with vanilla JS and spent some time going through the React Docs and trying to understand what everything was. Trying to understand the why behind these concepts.

I came back to FCC again after completing this and FCC showed me more examples of ‘How’ to implement what I was learning. Needless to say I got the exact same Buzz going through that.

There are a few things I have learned from my experience that if I could give to myself when I started would have saved me a lot of time.

The first is that there will inevitably be blanks and brick walls as you go through the sections, I think it is completely normal to not understand everything at first glance. But when you hit them see them as a sign that you may have to take in further information and improve your understanding to fully appreciate what is being conveyed to you. This is where things like MDN and JS.info really helped me immensely.

Secondly its that “Time in the game is better than timing the game”, what I mean by this is that its a marathon, not a sprint. Progress is measured in Months not minutes, the only way to see that progress is to keep exposing yourself to new concepts, new information. Keep persevering even when things seem hopeless, you will thank yourself for it later on down the line.

Being my first post here I wanted to try an keep as much opinion out of it as possible, its difficult to convey a journey without some creeping in. But it is just that, a ‘Journey’, one which admittedly I am still at the start of. However, I am looking forward to the next hurdles because I know with them will come an even greater understanding and more appreciation for this craft I have decided to embark on.

Hope this helps someone!

Martyn

I am really grateful to this platform for giving me a guided path, it has taught me a lot of things outside of just being able to code which I don’t think I would have got from any other path I would have taken.

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