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On Your Mark, Git Set, Go

Today I learned how to GitHub. But not really. Actually, I’ve tried to learn how to GitHub. Many times, over the course of my year-long immersion into data science and coding and technology, I have tried to get myself into it, because I wanted to learn, and I was excited to be good. I wanted so badly to be good.

My exciting GitHub journey.

Is it obvious that I did not get good? I barely even tried, actually. I have this problem with wanting to not suck at things, but you have to suck at something before you get good. I mean, other than stuff that you’re naturally talented at, but that’s not the case for most people. And certainly not for me, because I am not naturally gifted at many things. But I am naturally gifted with stubbornness, and I want to be able to stick to this and to commit to learning and practicing and writing better code, so I’m using this to give me some accountability. We’ll see how it works. GitHub has a terrifyingly robust tracking + version control system which is useful and good I’m sure, but for a beginner like me, well – it’s a little (a lot) intimidating.

There’s a ton of pressure that comes as a newbie without industry experience trying to break into the job market. Especially with a non-technical background. In the middle of a pandemic and civil unrest. There’s a lot of pressure to be productive, to constantly be producing new content, working on new projects, or developing new skills. There’s so much need to be at protests, to loudly demand change, to stand with my Black siblings and say no more. As a nerd who can be quite introverted but passionate about social justice, this time can seem like a blessing. But as someone who also suffers from severe depression, it can also be a curse. Some days I wake up and the day slips past me like a familiar childhood scent that sits just past the edge of recognition. Tracking my contribution activity is absolutely terrifying. I can already predict the wide swaths of empty spaces on days where I eat one slice of bread because I cannot get the energy to grab the sliced turkey. I can feel the frustration, with my lack of self-control, with my inability to give myself the consideration that someone struggling with my mental illness deserves. But I want to try. And so, try I will. And I’m going to try being kinder to myself, while I’m at it. I won’t ever be productive and able every day, and that’s okay. Instead of seeing the lack of output, I’ll take joy in the time I spent doing things other than “productivity” and “professional development”.

I may never be excellent. I might barely touch good. But I want to find joy in that too, in the journey to- well, to stop sucking. I may not ever be good, but I sure as hell don’t have to be bad. Today, I opened – or started, I’m not sure – my first repository and while I’m not sure what it is or does, I have a README file and a bunch of Python files I submitted as homework assignments during one of my classes in the Fall of 2019. It wasn’t a class about using Python for data analysis like we had all initially expected, but instead, it was a class about computing, and algorithms. It was awful. The professor had been expecting a decent level of prior programming experience, and my only brush with Python had been an abysmal “introductory” course that lasted 4 weeks and didn’t teach anybody anything. Seriously, it’s a pretty legendary class amongst my cohort.

But back to my repository. My code isn’t beautiful. It likely isn’t efficient, or well-designed. I’m still not 100% sure what object-oriented programming is. And it hasn’t clicked in my head why functions are supposedly so useful. I used to write this code out in Spyder using static variables and then convert them all into a function at the end of the assignment. So, I was never expecting this code to change the world. But it changed mine, because I realized I enjoyed doing it, even though it terrified and challenged me. And now that I have free time, I want to give myself the opportunity (without any of the pressure) to improve my skills and practice coding again. And then maybe I’ll tackle those homework assignments again. I can fork a branch of the master repository and be able to compare the difference. I’m not sure if I used the lingo right or if that’s how it actually works but it sounds fun, right? I really freaking hope it’s fun.

We all have to start somewhere!

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