image of a cell phone, some notebooks and sharpie pens

I learned a very tough lesson this week. And it’s one that I’m quite confident every web developer has experienced.

I made a mistake. Yes, me. Shocking, I know. And yes, you too, I’m sure, have made one before too.

I went to school early in an attempt to catch up on everything. I decided to start tackling things one at a time in the order that they were due. But what I should have been able to finish in a couple of hours was suddenly not working at all like I had imagined.

I reread the assignment instructions. I went over my code, one line, at a time. I checked for missing semi-colons. I looked in the console log but alas no red glaring error message. It just wasn’t doing what it was supposed to be doing.

I went over it again and again. I googled. I started rewriting my logic in case I had gotten something wrong. A couple of hours became several more. Rapidly I had spent an entire day and didn’t feel any further along. I hadn’t finished this assignment or any other for that matter, I had simply spent an entire day trying to fix something that wasn’t working.

The next day, I was starting to worry. I asked other students. I still couldn’t find what I was doing wrong so I worked on it some more. I commented things out and started going over it section by section. I changed things around, still no solution. Worry was turning into panic. Panic was turning into questioning my own abilities. Maybe I’m just not cut out for this!

I googled some more. I looked at tutorials. Everything I looked at seemed to reinforce that it wasn’t a lack of understanding. I could understand what I was reading and seeing. So why wasn’t this working?

I had thought this assignment would be fairly straightforward. I had assumed I could get through it in a single afternoon and yet here I was two days later still working on it.

After several more hours of making it worst I finally I took a break. I needed to tackle other assignments that had been sitting untouched while I struggled with this one. I breezed through those in a couple of hours.

Finally after tackling the ever growing homework pile and clearing my head I looked at it again. This time rather than focus on what wasn’t working I started looking at the pieces that were working. Why are they working but this piece isn’t? It was then that I realized if one is working the other should also work since they are both checking for the same kind of data. So what’s different about these two sections that would allow one to work and not the other? The name! I then checked the spelling and realized that I had spelled Password when I should have spelled it password.

Two days of questioning my own abilities and here I had simply spelled the word password with a capital P when I shouldn’t have.

Why is this such a tough lesson? Because it reminded me that no matter how much I know I will still occasionally make mistakes. How I manage my time throughout those mistakes however is very important.

I should have taken a step back and worked on other assignments sooner. Just because I was stuck with this assignment didn’t mean the rest of my classes had stopped. Luckily I didn’t get stuck on any of the other assignments but juggling between multiple projects sometimes provides us to clear our head and come back to something with a fresh perspective.

It also reminded me that I’m better at this than I sometimes think. From now on however I will remember to copy paste ids and names when I can to avoid this kind of thing from happening.

Why is this mistake so different than all the other mistakes I’ve made as a student? I realized that I almost immediately assumed I had gotten the logic wrong. I spent so much time assuming I didn’t know what I was doing that I hadn’t considered such a simple mistake. I’d assumed it was something bigger. The longer I had worked on it the more I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing but it turned out that I just hadn’t spelled something properly.

I’ve often heard web developers say that they frequently go from feeling like they know nothing to feeling like they know everything and for me today that was true.

I started my day feeling like I knew nothing and by the end I was reassured that I did in fact at least know something. I’m not the type to ever think I know more than everyone, but I’m starting to see how much more I know now than I used to. And that is all one can hope for, to grow and to learn. And today I did just that.


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