All things are mercurial, leaving one to feel adrift. Subject to the whims of a capricious cosmos, we each dig our makeshift trenches, erecting defenses against the vexing volatility of the universe.
My fortification against this inconstant world is information.
I am the type of person that reads everything, all the time, everywhere. Border-lining on the compulsive, my constant acquisition of data feels like a fortress between me and the persistent winds of constant change.
My thinking is, if I can just know enough, I will be prepared for any eventuality. I will not be sucker-punched by the gods.
This explains my recent obsession with reading everything I can find about web development and computer programming. Since I am considering a career change into this field, I feel like the ground beneath my feet is softening and roiling. Uncertainty is pounding on my door like a possessed wood-pecker so I resort to my favorite defense mechanism- arming myself with knowledge.
Each day when I come home from work I scan the internet for testimonials, blogs, comments, articles, essays, websites,twitter feeds, and podcasts about web development. I read and take mental notes about what I have learned. A wall of facts and figures insulate me from my fears of an uncertain future, unemployment, and concerns about debt.
While obsessively reading about computer programming I encountered a blog called Confessions Of An Unlikely Developer written by a blacksmith turned web developer. This blog introduced me to FreeCodeCamp.com. The author heaped high praise on this website so I decided to give it a try.
I have not been disappointed.
To date FreeCodeCamp has 14,996 participants all learning computer programming and web development skills for free with the support of a great community. There is a chat room where you can go and talk with other students, ask questions, and share code.
Once you complete all the challenges, you have the opportunity to work on web projects for real non-profits! This is a wonderful way to learn a new skill set and give back at the same time.
Of course the challenges are not easy. Only 160 students have successfully completed all the challenges and are working with non-profits.
I am on challenge #10 and I am determined to complete all 53 of them!
Since I started working through FreeCodeCamp, I have seen my own programming skills sharpen. With the chat room capability, I have been able to talk with more experienced programmers. The main lesson I have learned from them is that it is not good enough to just work through tutorials and challenges. You actually have to build something of your own from scratch. This is when the real learning happens because there are no instructions holding your hand.
I took this advice to heart and created an account at codepen.io. This is a great place to write code and immediately see the results of what you have written in real time. So far I have built a cat from scratch using only HTML/CSS and I have created a (fake) personal website to practice more skills. Here is the link.
I know the world is whirling at great speed. I know that at any moment, the unexpected might come along and knock me off my axis. (See Curve Ball). I know that my future is very uncertain and that I am taking a HUGE risk by changing careers. But it is also try that I am doing my best to gather the information and resources that I need to ensure my own success. I will continue to heed the advice of senior programmers and build, build BUILD.
Perhaps if I built it, a job will come?