I’m gonna be a developer.

My first computer was given to me by the Vicar at our local church. I fell in love with it and was never far from a computer again. I was lucky in that my father was also into computers and it wasn’t long before I was gently lulled by sweet sweet dial up sounds and pretending to be asleep when in reality I was trying to monopolise the in game market of my favourite MMORPG.

When I was around 13 years old I used to frequent a thing called “Habbo Hotel”, a teen game-like chat room type thing where you could have your own pixel avatars and buy little pixel furniture. I started to use fan sites for the game where I would make my own versions of these pixel people. The site exposed me to my first online friends, one or two of which would “build websites”.

Wait, regular people build websites?

So I tried to learn PHP with Tizag. It was crap. I wasn’t enthusiastic. It wasn’t long before I discovered HTML and was making “awesome” Myspace layouts with image mapping and more bold tags than are considered sanitary.

But I got older. I focused on secondary school and computers became no more than an everyday tool to me. I resigned myself to the fact that I would never be the cool developer I wanted to be. Then came sixth form, then university where I obtained a Psychology degree and financial debt in equal parts.  After three years of uni I was exhausted and I knew I didn’t want to continue on working in Psychology like I thought I did. I existed with no real direction.

I was given a rare opportunity that sky-rocketed me back into the world of web development and spent the next two years organising events for developers. Through organising meet-ups, conferences and workshops I was able to enter the “web community”, something I never thought I’d be able to do. The majority of my friendship group quickly became full of web developers, web designers and UX’ers. I was like a kid in a sweet shop, able to have casual conversations with some seriously awesome and talented people who I’m sure consider themselves to be normal but I still regard them with awe.

I like to think they accepted me as their own, in so much as I would regularly have the “wait, you’re not a developer?” talk. That’s the thing, I wasn’t a developer like the rest of them and it really depressed me. I re-learnt HTML and CSS to a reasonable degree but never really used it. I just wasn’t motivated and although I had a whole legion of developers at my fingertips, didn’t think I would be able to make it.

In April 2014 I became unemployed for health reasons and those health reasons controlled me for a further four months before I started to wake up from the haze. I immediately became aware that I had no job and no money and that alone is enough to have me crawling back into bed. Most importantly I had no real goal for my life. I knew I needed to do something about it though and the one and only thing that would dance around my head 24/7 was “be a developer” which the cynical part of my brain replied “lol no you’ll never be able to do that”.

At this point I felt like a massive failure of a person already so I didn’t think I’d be able to screw up trying to learn development enough to fail even more. I signed up to CS50, a computer science course with Harvard at edX (David Malan is the best lecturer I have ever had). It’s a very engaging and challenging course but the strict structure and the ‘C’ learning had my mind wandering. So I started to play with JavaScript.

I have tried to learn to code on a handful of occasions. Though fun and rewarding, I just never had the time due to education or work or simply exhaustion. Now all I have is time. I already knew the basics of JavaScript but I finally feel like it’s making sense. I’m excited. I can’t stop thinking about it. I’m actually BUILDING something for myself for the first time. I’m studying (writing notes too!) and sharing things I never did before. I spent a whole day excited by ‘document.getElementById’ in the console.

Most importantly I’m not being strict with myself. I’ve always made learning about “succeed or you are useless and you will die” but that will never be a conducive way for me to learn. If I don’t feel like working on my project or studying a particular chapter of JavaScript one day, I learn something else that’s useful instead to get myself excited again and then go back to my main focus.

What am I going to do with all this new found information? I’m gonna be a developer. I’m going to keep learning every day, I’m going to build, I’m going to be frustrated and elated. Then I am going to seek an internship where I’m going to learn, build, be frustrated and elated all over again.

I will call myself a developer and it will be genuine. Hopefully my young self from the early 2000’s will finally be pleased.


10 thoughts on “I’m gonna be a developer.

  1. Hiya,

    Great post, you go go go! Perhaps when you feel ready you would consider taking a junior post somewhere like the BBC.

    Also, have you ever had of a lovely lady called Anna Debenham? She is rather wonderful and i imagine would have many wise words which may be able to help you and others!

    Best of luck,

    Jamie + Lion


  2. Best of luck with all of this Charlotte. I’m sure you’ll become a fantastic developer. Your positive attitude in the post is infectious. Keep us updated on your progression through ‘all the things’


  3. I can vouch for the BBC being a great place to work (@integralist). Good read, thanks for sharing. Every day as a developer is a challenge, meaning you are always learning (i am still learning, and ive been in this game for ~15yrs)


  4. Great post Charlotte… As Stu said, your passion in the post is incredibly high. If you feel that strongly about it, then it’ll work big time for you.

    It’s awesome to read that you’re building something for yourself too! I’ve recently begun learning some more ‘dev’ type languages like JS & PHP and have begun building tools for my own personal use. Having things work that *you’ve* made is just an awesome feeling! Keep going and keep me updated :)


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