I feel so connected to programming, so much that I can’t live without it. It’s a part of me, or I’m part with it. Either way it doesn’t matter. All that matters, is that when my fingers are connected to a Mac, Xcode is open, and I’m writing code in Swift, I feel ALIVE. So much, that that at times it appears that TIME is waiting for me to finish what I’m doing. Not the other way around.
This is my story of how I was able to find my passion for programming --especially for Swift-- and how one man influenced my every move. He once said, “As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find [‘what you love’]. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle...” -Steve Jobs.
My expedition to becoming a “god” at programming all started the summer before 8th grade, when I attempted to learn programming. This first attempt was let’s say unique. I was sitting at home on my home computer, it’s a 2006 iMac --let me just say it’s turtle on tranquilizers slow, when I had the brilliant idea to start learning how to program. I had no experience before this, not even dragging blocks across the screen, so I unknowingly sought out to learn C++ (a text based programming language). This journey, was a short one, just to say the least. I only learned how to input data and how to output it into a console (a window that displays text). I started out calmly, but as soon as I dug deeper into the language -- i.e. classes, loops, methods, conditionals (I think you get the point, anything beyond printing “Hello World!” or having the computer ask me what’s my weight)-- my head felt like it was going to burst. I expected learning C++ to be “easy” and what I was reading didn’t make any sense to me, so I quit my first attempt at programming with a “f*** it!...I’m done with this s***!”.
I can’t remember when I picked up programming again, this time for a second time, but I think it was during the winter break of 8h grade. Before winter break I heard how my middle school, would be hosting a coding event, called Hour of code, so over break I decided that I would take a look at what the event might look like. This is too f***ing easy, how can anyone learn to code this way? Little did I know, but the most basic form of programming --using blocks-- was actually fun and addicting.
That is all I needed, the addictive drive and hunger to write code. It pushed me to stay up “some” nights to just write code. This is soo true. I would write code, not because I had to, but because I found the love and passion to do so. Sadly, school, often than not, prevented me from achieving this “high”.
Within an hour I finished all the levels of the small course and I thought that it was really easy. As a result, when the actual event came, I told myself that I would go to it and be a part of it. Sadly, my other side (my ego) got the better of me and told me that I would be doing the same exact thing that I did over winter break, so I naturally went home from school. Leaving the event in my rear view mirror. This might’ve been a mistake, because I later learned I could have just done the activities I didn’t complete during winter break. This marked the end of my second attempt at learning how to code.
The summer before my sophomore year in high school, a small, but weak spark was ignited inside of me. Since Apple had released Swift (the predecessor to the 30 year old programming language, also created by apple, named Objective-C), I took it upon myself to try and learn this new language, before it become too modified and too changed. I spent days on end, on my own Macbook Pro 2015 model --which I got the previous spring break, trying to learn the language, but I failed. I lost the determination. I lost drive to continue. Most importantly, I didn’t have anyone to truly push me, so I lost the hope of ever learning how to code. Before Swift, I took a look at Objective-C, it looked like a foreign language, and had the worst syntax (how the language is written) ever. So when I looked at Swift’s syntax, I was blown away at how easy it was on the eyes. It looked like plain english for the most part --well to a programmer at least-- and it didn’t have anything confusing with its syntax. From that point on, and until today, I’ve been hooked with Swift. If Apple wouldn’t have created and released Swift in 2014, I think I would have never tried to learn how to code again, but I’m glad that they did. Sadly I had to put my learning expedition on hold, because school was starting, and I’d be taking three programming classes throughout the year.
Back to eighth grade. My decision of not going to the Hour of Code event played a huge part in my class selection for my Freshman year at HIgh School. Because I completed many, but not all, of the activities, I decided not to take a programming class. This will later cost me, greatly. Instead, I decided to take Introduction to Engineering by PLTW.
It’s the end of Freshman year, and the end of Intro to Engineering. I learned so much about myself, as a student, and as a person. I learned how to go through an apply the engineering cycle in as an engineer. Most importantly, I learned that I didn’t want to be an engineer, because I wanted to be a programmer --essentially a Software engineer. The year went well, and I started to gravitate towards Computer Science (CS). In doing so, my sophomore year schedule further reinforced my decision to taking CS and Computer Programming classes.
I’ve failed at learning how to program so many times, so it felt really good to finally be able to create something physical --something I could interact with by using my iPhone.
With the end of second semester, my Web Dev class comes to a close. Taking CS2 before this class, helped a lot, because I was able to apply what I learned in CS2 to my Web Dev projects. The semester went really well. I was always ONE of the first people finished --mostly, and my projects always had something extra in them. My projects were also more designer friendly. Sadly, by the end of the semester I noticed that I was loosing my passion for coding, but, I only lost my passion for the web development aspect of programming. I thought that Web Dev wasn’t for me. It couldn’t keep me up at night. I couldn’t achieve the same “high” that I achieved when adding code to the War game. To add, I didn’t like the tools that I had to use (mainly Dreamweaver: adobe software that allows for easy click and drag design, instead of hard coding it yourself).
As a junior I rarely if ever got to feel the “high” agian. I learned java in APCS, but java is an ancient language and it should be retired. I won’t talk much about this class, because it was a necessary class, but a boring one. Mr. Awsome left this year, so I was taught java using the standard curriculum way.
Lecture...Homework...Quiz...Assignment/Project...Test...Lecture… and repeat. I’m just glad I got to go to my school’s CS Club sponsored Hackathon --an event where students program for 24 hours straight with certain activities at different times, because I don’t know what I would’ve done with myself if I couldn’t feel ALIVE again. Be one with the code. I was up for 36 hours straight. I mainly survived on caffeine, but the “high” feeling was the sole driving force that prevented me from forcing myself to get some sleep. I was in the ZONE. And because of this my team, two cousins, and I were 3 out of 4 students who won the Make School $2000 scholarship.
This whole second semester of the school I’ve been dying to program, to make SOMETHING. I’ve been dying to feel ALIVE again. I’ve been dying to force TIME to revolve around me --not the other way around. But I wasn’t able to fulfill this, becuase school always found a way to keep me at bay. I got angry at times, but then I remembered just wait till June 19th.