Maybe Someone Can Relate, Here's Hoping

Maybe Someone Can Relate, Here's Hoping
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#1

I’ve been freelancing as a web designer for a few years now after getting a Bachelor’s degree in Web Design. What I thought would land me an awesome on site position didn’t get me very far after a company who hired me after graduating neglected to mention that my being hired was only because they needed someone to work full time on the redesign of their new website. Once that was done they pretty much didn’t have anything for me after a month or two. So I stopped wasting gas money and stayed at home. Don’t spend what you don’t earn. After that I bought myself a monitor so I could have a two monitor setup, and began to redesign my original portfolio site for school into a site I could use to bring in clients of my own. This worked for a little while, here and there, and helped me get a few contract positions that seemed to have work for me just when I really needed it, but this only enables me to barely survive and stress like crazy when my one of my kids outgrows their clothes, or shoes, or worse, school clothes season comes because my stupid school district now requires uniform, even though that just requires parents to spend even more money than before! I hate living this way, having no money to take my kids out and take them to fun events. If it wasn’t for my gardening hobby I think I would go mad!

So in 2016 I decided I wanted to expand my knowledge and my coding skills and become a full stack developer. I know some PHP, and can read and understand it for the most part, since I customize WordPress themes for a lot of clients, but JavaScript is a coding language I really want to learn. I’ve been able to figure out simple scripts, but not write my own, or really gain a full understanding of JavaScript. Plus, I would love to be able to earn a better income and give my kids more than I can now. I’m tired of being poorer than dirt!

I began on Free Code Camp in the fall of 2016, was able to begin to learn Javascript, but only understand it, I couldn’t for the life of me write my own code. I tried and tried but something was missing. I just wasn’t learning JavaScript in a way to be able to take what I learned and write my own code. After a few months, I stopped. Earning a living and surviving the end of the year became more important. Being a single mom, and having bills to pay, a household to run, dinners to plan, grocery shopping, etc., I can’t focus on coding 24/7.

Then in 2017 I tried again, but with the same outcome. Then earlier this year I found a course on Udemy, which got a lot of good ratings, and was on sale for $10.99, woohoo within my budget, so I purchased it and waited for some free time to try it out. During the beginning of the year a company I contract with had three websites they needed help with, and I could use the money to stretch out bills for a few months in case other work didn’t happen. Once that was completed I began the course, hopeful that this would be the one to help me with my hurdles. I had to skip through the HTML, CSS, and Bootstrap parts since it was going over what I already knew, but then I finally got to the JavaScript section.

In the beginning I felt I was getting somewhere, and could actually complete the little challenges on my own. I thought, this might be it, even though I was just getting started again. Then I got to the section where you have to complete a few small challenges, which I got through until I got to factorials. I remember hitting this roadblock in Free Code Camp. All the JavaScript taught so far did not give me any help with how to write my own function, taking a single numeric argument and return the factorial of that number. Now I’m back to square one, with no idea on what to do. So I did what one usually does when stumped, I Googled. But the only options I found was understanding and copying someone else’s code. How does that help me? Why not just go to the next section and see the answer for this? Same concept right? Now my newly found confidence that I might just get somewhere went right out the window. It has now been three weeks and I still haven’t gotten past that section.

I took some time off to upgrade my portfolio page on my website, which really needed a redesign, and did not have some of my clients websites added for some weird reason. Then my gallery was really, really out of date. I do photography, as a hobby, and hopefully if I get better maybe as a side job one day, so I added new photos, better new photos and spruced it up a bit. Now I’m waiting on a client payment, and will use some of that to upgrade my flat CMS so I can get my blog up to date. I really need to go back to this course, but have no confidence in myself with learning JavaScript. Plus summer vacation is coming up and my kids will be home all day, every day, and I’ll have the joy of listening to my younger two fight and scream all day, every day. No joke, they are hell on wheels. Anyone who was thinking of becoming a parent, if left alone with those two for a week would run for the hills screaming and rethink becoming a parent. Seriously, no joke. Then my teenage son graduates high school in a week, finally has a job, and expects me to play taxi because I can’t afford to help him get a car.

Now how to do I learn JavaScript and get past my hurdle? :frowning:

I’ve read article after article of how people who never coded before are becoming full stack developers, but none of them help me. Why? Because none of them are single parents with the stress of running a household, dealing with kids screaming and fighting, complaining and whining, well, you get the idea. They are all 20 somethings with no one to worry about but themselves. No pun intended, but you don’t know how lucky you are. I have yet to meet anyone in my shoes, or at least similar shoes, who is finding a way to learn JavaScript. Or become a good developer. Something, anything. I feel alone in my situation and unable to relate to anyone else I’ve come across. So that doesn’t help either. It would be easier if I wasn’t a single mom, could devote more time to my learning, but I’m not, and I can’t. So, how do I get past my hurdle? That is the one question I still can not answer.


#2

The simple fact of the matter is that this is hard. It’s hard to learn. It’s hard to do. You get stuck. You start from scratch over and over and over. You spend 10x the time and effort you think a task should take. You get frustrated. You ask for help. You feel like an idiot.

That’s a significant part of life in this field, both as a student and as a professional. This is one of the reasons that it isn’t for everyone. You need to be ok with that kind of stress being something that is part of your life.


#3

Hey @RHKay, I don’t believe there is a one size fit all answers. It just comes down the grueling trial and error. You do have to write the code yourself to understand how it works, no matter what books you read or resources you use. I remember when I was playing with my portfolio site over the past few years since I got started. I went through so many bad ideas. I made mistakes trying to make it a JS powered blog using JSON and ajax. Then I wanted it to load faster with PHP so I’d use PHP to transform the JSON into HTML.

In short just a lot of trial and error really helped me learn what not to do and what to do.

As I’m looking for work and building my portfolio I’ve really been focusing on teaching more and if you need the one on one I’d love to take the time to help you learn if you have any questions or want a one on one overview of what you’re having trouble with. Send me a message if you’re interested.

Another thing I found helpful was about a year ago I felt really overwhelmed with having to learn libraries that I just took a break and focused on learning regular javascript. It really helped me and what I learned has helped me pick up Node, Express, and React easily.

I did this because when I first got started with JS it was through Codecademy and FCC. I was encouraged to use jQuery and when I got around to doing more advanced stuff I didn’t understand that jQuery was still JS and had a problem using JS for my own projects, especially along with jQuery.

In my opinion learning JS should be coupled with problem solving.


#4

Here’s looking at you kid. You are right- there is no one out there trying to do what you do, your life is unique- your kids are unique. You keeping them in any clothes and food (alone) = bloody good going. The one thing you have to remember is to keep at it, so your progress sucks and you don’t know what the hell is going on… keep going. Even if you stare at a screen for 5 minutes a day… you are progressing. You are a human = intelligent and adaptable.

I did not feel like I had learnt any JS until I reached the random quote machine… finally …click and even doing that I looked at someone else’s code first (newbie fear). Yet I own it- every single line, I get it. So your moment is just around the corner (I checked where you are, which is close to there). It is not a shameful thing to look for someone else’s answer… and it does not degrade your learning.

The one thing you can do that will probably help is to use something like codepen to play with output… there was a TED talk (can’t remember which) where they successfully got people learn code simply by looking at their own cause and effect. The challenges on FCC are “black box”… they pass or fail the tests, right? But you can go up a level- what really helped me this last 2 weeks is to be in code pen and instead of just "return **** " for a function I document.write(that function)- so I get to see the output. That way I see IMMEDIATELY where my misconceptions lie. It is a little bit like doing test-driven coding, just you don’t formally write a “test”- you are a human, you already decided what will happen- you learn when what you expect != (does not equal) what you get.

If you want to play around with my basic JS pen then have a look at this pen I did as I went through the challenges- go break things, see what happens (https://codepen.io/m4sterbunny/live/mLWoPd). In the midst of all the chaos and crazy of being a mum, it is ok to take some time to grow you.


#5

Thank you for the offer of help, I greatly appreciate it. I think some of my roadblock is not having anyone to talk to about code in general. For me the mathematical portion tends to throw me for a loop at times, and I have to step back to wrap my head around it. I have used my website to experiment with different things, such as making my portfolio page masonry with a JS plugin and jQuery, which still has a kink I need to work out. As well as incorporating PHP. Then incorporating a flat CMS because I wanted my blog to be a part of my bootstrap theme.

The thing is I love coding and everything that comes with it. I just feel stuck in a loop I can’t get out of and every time my kids bring on more stress I get more stressed. Then I feel like I will never get there because I can’t devote the time others can because my kids and household come first. Summer vacation coming has me really frazzled. Big question, how am I going to find the time to work and learn with my kids at home all the time creating havoc? That is the one that has me frazzled and not looking forward to them not being in school all day.

Plus sometimes I just learn and take in information differently, and a lot of the online learning doesn’t incorporate the one thing that will get my brain to take it in and spit it out so I can feel as though I’m getting somewhere. But losing the peace and quiet is going to make this much harder.


#6

Thank you so much for you’re reply. The way Free Code Camp is set up doesn’t really tell me what I did right or wrong, and that is frustrating, so I will take your advice of using code pen as well. I also felt like the way it teaches wasn’t setting in just right, which is why I began trying the course on Udemy. Until I got to the factorial challenge I was getting somewhere, and writing my own code, even if it was for little things. It was something.

I bet it felt good to write your own code for that challenge, and it’s nice to hear someone else telling me they too have looked over someone else’s code before they got their solution. I think what bothers me most about the factorial challenge is that after looking at other code I can’t figure out my own solution. There goes my hurdle. I read JavaScript, I get it, I have to figure out my own, and I can’t. Three weeks later, I still haven’t moved past it. Although focusing on updating my own site helped take my mind off it and do what I love and actually enjoy it, even when I got stuck on a problem and was cursing my computer. Also, taking a breather and checking up on my tomatoes or cucumbers, or even my melon patch for a few minutes helps as well. I seem to be doing that a lot lately.

Thank you for reading my post, for your suggestions and telling me about your own hurdles.