« Ember is Hard, Part 1: Do Hard Things

April 28, 2015 • ☕️ 2 min read

Do Hard Things

The worst thing you could do for yourself is give up on something that is hard. I have heard people blame things like burn out, “I just don’t think that way”, or “that’s just not my thing”. But usually when someone is at this point they are really close to the peak of the mountain and just cant see it yet, or super close to an amazing breakthrough that is just past this one mental block.

“Just think about it deeply, then forget it” — Don Draper

Taking a break is different than giving up. Sometimes your brain needs a break, that’s a good thing. But make your brain thirst for that break. Work hard to understand something, it will pay off. Your brain is wired to grow like that.

I have no formal CS degree, and have gotten about as far as algebra in math. I didn’t do well in school (Cs and Ds) and was always told I have a “learning disability” known as ADD or ADHD. Inherently the temptation to shut down and quit was strong within me. If you told me that I would be building Charts and Graphs in Javascript right after high school I wouldn’t have believed you.

I used to think ‘there are smart people, and dumb people’.

Now I think ‘there are people who exercise their brain, and people that don’t’.

I didn’t learn how to program overnight, it didn’t “come naturally” and I hadn’t “been coding since I was 8”. I had basically been handed a Job out of high school building computers with no experience. Not making a lot but it was an opportunity. I was more artsy growing up, I liked to draw. Every Technical skill I learned looked like a mountain to overcome, and I had the blisters to prove it at the top.

Learning to do IT there were lots of software and manuals to read and meticulous instructions to follow. Step by step, setting up a new Windows SBS server, if you messed one up, good luck!

Learning HTML and CSS was like building a castle with blocks that you didn’t know the shape of.

Learning Ruby and Rails was by far the most challenging thing to learn. I think I actually spent the first six months learning how to debug unix systems. Imagine spending six months of your free time on something and having nothing physical to show for it .

Learning Ember didn’t come like cake either, even after getting through all of the above. There were growing pains that made me frustrated. Sometimes I would be building a feature and knowing I should be following conventions, but I couldn’t find docs about the primitives that I should be using. Or the stack overflow solution seemed like bad practice.

Getting through those times gives you glimpses of the view you will get at the top of the mountain.

All that said, everything on this list I have spent the last 7 plus years learning, have been super fulfilling.