Perfection is meaningless

At some point in the midst of my 2021 summer classes my internet goes out and not in the modern-convenient-internet-access kind of way.

At the time the place I was living would lose internet access frequently (imagine… every other week or so). When it went out, it sometimes took a few days before it was restored. To add to the chaos, this was happening in the wake of COVID-19 so coffee shop internet was not going to happen.

During this outage, I migrated to my in-law’s house to siphon some internet. I was in the midst of an assignment and I admittedly had ZERO idea what I was doing. Gradescope was mocking me with failed tests all day and I was feeling the time crunch. Around 9PM, my husband mentioned the internet was back up and running at home so I decided to risk relocating.

When I arrived at home, my internet worked for a glorious 20 minutes before cutting out. After hardware reboots and a mobile hotspot didn’t help, I packed up my computer and hit the road again. After driving to a few failed locations, I finally headed to my place of work.

So now it’s past midnight, I’m parked in my work parking lot, crunched up in my driver seat with my computer and still lost on the assignment. I looked for an online tutor. I attempted Googling solutions. I tried bashing my hands on the keyboard and my head against the steering wheel. Nothing worked.

Just before 2AM, frustrated, tired and most of all discouraged, I emailed my professor explaining my issues with the internet, closed my computer and drove home.

This was not the only horrific night in my programming experience thus far. If you are anything like me, perfectionism has plagued your learning as well. The idea of getting anything less than an A or B has lead me to sacrifice any chance I have at happiness for a few measly points. The hard reality is that if I would have quit at 9PM that night I would likely be sitting in the same place I am now: working in my first tech internship and prepared to graduate in great standing in December.

If I could hand any advice to a student beginning their programming journey, this one sentiment would be it: perfection is meaningless. Learning how to create a sustainable work-life balance for yourself will be a far greater asset to you than any programming language you will pick up along the way.

Jake the Dog, said it best:

“Sucking at something is the first step towards being sorta good at something.” – Jake the Dog

Cut yourself some slack. Invest in yourself. You are smart enough to make it through this program and onto the other side.

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