How Learning in Public Has Changed My Life
I'm sitting at my desk, staring at my computer screen, and shaking like a leaf. I slowly move my mouse and hover over the "Go Live" button and all I can think to myself is, "Why on Earth am I about to do this?" I close my eyes, click the button, and my life was totally changed. Okay I know that sounds extremely dramatic, but I promise you it isn't! Putting myself out there on my Twitch channel has been one of the best and yet one of the hardest experiences I have ever faced. And you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way. But lets start from the beginning.
I first decided I wanted to learn how to code thanks to the loving encouragement (and at times steady push) from my husband. He is a software engineer himself, and I would watch his work/life balance and admire it. As someone who has worked in healthcare for both animals AND people, long hours and working yourself to the brink were something that was normalized. Then Covid hits. I am sitting at home, stressed and overworked, while my husband is able to pick up the pieces and still have peace of mind working from home. It was there the spark began. I always had an interest in coding, especially since the good old Myspace and Tumblr days, but also had an intense fear of failure. I was never the best at math and considered myself more of the artsy type versus the intellectual type. Any time my husband tried to explain to me what he did on a daily basis, it literally sounded like gibberish. I felt like I just wasn't smart enough to understand the complexities of the coding world, and the anxiety and self-doubt creeped in. However, over many (and I mean many) words of affirmation from my friends and loved ones, I decided why not? What do I really have to lose? If it doesn't work out I can always continue the career I had prior. I might as well take the chance now, so that way I don't have to wonder what could have been. So, it was then I decided to devote myself to learning how to code, but where in the world was I supposed to begin?
Tutorials, tutorials, tutorials. There are hundreds if not thousands of different tutorials and learning resources that you can find online for free in order to learn how to code. I have another article that I wrote previously here that goes into detail about some of my favorites. Yes, that was a shameless plug but it really is good info I promise 😅 Personally, I really heavily debated on going to a coding bootcamp. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to maintain structure and self-discipline to learn on my own but I really didn't want to have to pay as much as it costs to go to one. Then one day, as I am scrolling through Twitch, I come across a channel called LearnWithLeon. There, the instructor Leon was teaching full-stack web development online for free and by watching his videos I gained the confidence to make the decision of learning on my own. It was also through his videos that he spoke about accountability and learning in public. Now, as someone who has some pretty intense anxiety I have always had trouble in social situations. I get in my head a lot and always wonder if the other people around me are judging me, if I am stuttering too much, talking too loudly, etc. I get extreme nerves at the thought of making a phone call and start sweating like there's no tomorrow just at the prospect of a zoom call. I took a long hard look at myself and thought about the person that I want to be and decided at that moment I didn't want to live in fear anymore. So what do I do? I decide to start a Twitch channel, and document my coding journey. If I can have to courage to change my career, I felt it was time to take another big step and have the courage to really present myself to the world.
Sounds easy enough, right? Nooo way. I got all my equipment to start my streaming journey, and sat on it for a few days just totally procrastinating. I wanted to run away and hide under a rock somewhere, never to be perceived by anyone. And that has been my go to. I knew this needed to be different. It was time. I set up my stream, posted about it on Twitter so I had some accountability, and went live. I had never felt more afraid than I did that whole first stream. I was waiting for the heavy criticism. I was waiting for people to comment on my appearance, or say that I was coding incorrectly and that I wasn't cut out for this industry. Yet, the opposite happened. I got more support, words of wisdom, constructive feedback, and positive affirmations than I ever thought possible. These random strangers on the internet were taking the time out of their day to not just watch me code, but contribute to my learning. Learning to code is not easy, its been a tedious journey, and I still have a long way to go, but all the people who have appeared in that chat and have supported me have made it totally worth it. There have been a few times where I have felt on the brink of quitting, yet they are there with support and encouragement to help me through. Having that sense of community that has been cultivated through my Twitch channel and my Twitter has really helped me grow as a person. Now, don't get me wrong anxiety isn't black and white. I still get anxious from time to time, and that's just something I have to live with. But the amount that it has lessened due to me persevering and continuing to put myself out there truly is life changing. I no longer feel deathly afraid of talking with other people, and that allows me to connect with others in ways I never thought I could before. I am the me that I always knew I was, and now the world can finally see it too. All thanks to coding on Twitch~!