Mental exhaustion

It’s weird, since I started code school I’ve noticed that, at the end of the day, I am tired in a way I am thoroughly unused to. It’s hard to explain, but my brain is foggy in a way that it doesn’t get when I’m doing more physical work. When I go to bed, I am out pretty much as soon as my head hits the pillow.

This is actually kind of gratifying. I like to think of my brain doing little brainy calisthenics, deep knee bends and jumping jacks. I’m stretching it in ways it hasn’t been stretched before, which means that, even though this week has largely been an ongoing exercise in frustration, I must be learning, or else why would my brain be so tired?

I don’t think I realized how firmly I had been stuck in my comfort zone.

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Code school: day 1

Well, today is it. Today I give up on my liberal arts education and dreams and turn down a more practical path. Although I remain hopeful that I will be able to use my so-called “soft” skills once I find a job. Every company needs someone who can write, right?

That actually sounded a lot more pessimistic than I’m currently feeling. Learning to program does feel like a huge move away from the path I thought I would follow, but I put a lot of thought into the decision, and it makes a lot of sense for me.

So: day 1. Aside from forgetting my wallet, ritalin and water bottle at home, it went pretty well. Our first assignment was to write out how to play Battleship, in “code-y” language. It was strangely difficult to write down directions in plain english and then go through and translate them to something approximating code. Should the people playing be player_1 and player_2 or attacking_player and defending_player? How do I explain that each ship requires a different number of hits, and all five ships have to be sunk before you win? It would be far easier if the win case was simply “Hit the other player 17 times.” I’ve never paid attention to things like this before, and it’s already making my programmer friends’ mental processes make more sense to me. This weekend’s long assignment will be to actually code it, but this assignment made me realize how I need to change my attention to detail. It’s incredibly frustrating to have something not work and discover, 45 minutes later, that’s it’s solely because you have a space in the wrong place. I’m used to writing, where stuff like that is easily corrected and doesn’t really impact anything, but clearly those days are gone.

The Iron Yard staff are super supportive and enthusiastic, and they made a big deal of how many of the other students are total newbies to programming. I know that’s all over their promotional material, but it’s hard not to shake the feeling that I was going to be the only one who didn’t know what they were doing.

I am going to try really hard to update this continually as I go through this course. In addition to wishing I had some kind of resource like this when I was making my decision and attempting to prepare, I think it will be interesting to look back on as a personal journal. As such, I am going to try to list my fears and triumphs (and maybe failures, if that would be valuable) and moods as I go.

Mood: cautiously optimistic
Fears: That I’m too stupid to finish the class
Triumphs: I feel confident that my work today was good
Failures: None yet!