The Untold Truth About Getting Started in Tech

I’ve come to realize that getting started in technology or any related field is a lot more difficult than I imagined. It requires a great deal of time, concentration, logical thinking skills and motivation. If you come from a non-STEM background, you are going to be using your brain in ways you haven’t used it in a very long time and it will be tough if you are not willing to be patient and persevere. So I’ve created a list of some of the struggles I’ve faced and the techniques I’ve used to combat those struggles.

  1. YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE DOUBTS

There are going to be days when you feel like an impostor. You’re going to question why you’ve chosen this field and if you’ve made the right decision. You’ll start questioning, am I too old? Will I be able to retain all of this information? Will I be able to deliver? Will I find a good paying job? If you’ve asked yourself any of these questions than you’re giving yourself an excuse to fail. The reality is these are just doubts that will only delay you even more if you allow it to. Then you’ll really be too old to do anything. Make it a mission to suppress doubt and to keep a positive and sound mind each day. Whatever you do not achieve today, will get done tomorrow.

2. IT’S PAINFUL

Using your brain in this unfamiliar way has the potential to create neural pathways to reorganize and restructure itself for adaptation. This is called Neuroplasticity. Therefore, this is a tough and new challenge that is going to reshape the way you think and this can be really difficult at onset but the good news is that it gets easier with time. We have to be willing to do the hard stuff in order to get where we want to be. The pain is only temporary.

3. YOU’RE GOING TO BELIEVE THERE ISN’T ENOUGH TIME

It’s going to feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day. Prioritize and do not Procrastinate! Study piece by piece and do not allow it to overwhelm you. Especially if you are teaching yourself how to code, there’s no rush. Assuring that you understand the material rather than struggling to develop a product next month is so important. I’ve found that the Pomodoro Technique helps me to manage my time better by focusing on a particular field of study for 25 minutes at a time and taking  5 minute breaks in between. BeFocused is a simple and effective Pomodoro app that I use.

4. YOU WILL COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS

You will see others living what we think is a “stress-free” life, traveling and enjoying their time with family. They may have already achieved much and are living with a satiable income. You may feel stagnant or as if it is taking you too long to accomplish your goals. Remember, God’s timing is different for everyone. You are exactly where you should be at this present moment. Learning how to program takes time but it is not impossible. If you can trust that you’ll have your desired outcome despite it being unseen now, you will feel a lot more motivated. Also, surround yourself with a supportive group of friends and mentors who will only encourage you to continue on your path.

5. YOU WILL GET DISTRACTED

Whatever you do, avoid social media as much as you can! I am a victim of phone addiction and social media always gets me. However, I’ve learned how to consume less in order to get more work done. Your eyes may glaze over while reading about functions but try not to divert your attention elsewhere unless you’ve been focusing for at least 25-30 minutes. Furthermore, keep a healthy, balanced social life.  Having a social life is very important but do not let your social life get in the way of your study time. It’s OK to sacrifice Friday nights out and live like a poor person for awhile. Your focus should primarily be on apprehension and retention of the material, so try your best not to allow any unnecessary distractions to pull you away from it. It will all be worth it in the end. So get out there and start developing!

 

15 Life Hacks For My Future Daughter

1. Acknowledge That You Are Not Alone

I once believed that I was alone. That I was the only one experiencing what I was experiencing and that no one could or wanted to help me but I was utterly wrong. There’s always someone out there with a similar history or struggle who can empathize with you and help you through your dark times. Most importantly, you can always lean on God when you are feeling lonesome and he will never leave or forsake you. You may feel alone, physically, but you are never alone. There’s a large community of supporters all over the world that you can find at your local community church or the internet that can help you in your trials. Some examples are YouTube and Meetup.com.

2. Wear Shoes That Actually Fit Your Feet

Seriously! One pair of extremely small shoes, I don’t care how cute they are or what sale you found that did not have your size, those little shoes will damage your feet for life. Unless you want to struggle the rest of your life trying to find toe rings, closed toe sandals and wart removers to reduce the appearance of your callouses, then don’t you dare girl! This applies to clothes as well.

3. Save Your Money

Young Adulthood is the best time to start planning your financial future. It’s the best time to start considering being more frugal so that you can one day own that house you promised you’ll buy your mother. There are many examples of why saving your money is very crucial and beneficial in the end but you get the point.

4.  Don’t Be Afraid to Dream Big

There’s nothing wrong with imagining yourself living in Saint Tropez, working remotely as the founder of an energy company. You can do it!  It  may seem unrealistic at first but with commitment it is doable. Just remember with God, all things are possible. Just make sure you’ve found your purpose and that it is aligned with his. The worst that can happen is that you live your life in fear and that you do not live out your life’s true purpose.

5. It’s Never Too late

Don’t we all approach this stage in our little quarter lives, where we feel as if we’ve reached our mid-twenties and nothing extraordinary has happened. Just know you’ll never truly get over this phase, even when the extraordinary happens. You’ll always be striving for something better. Try your best to always have gratitude and patience despite the feeling of stagnancy. Maybe you’re 25 and you’re struggling to finish your masters program or even get into one for that matter. Maybe you are still trying to figure out what you are passionate about or what makes you happy. It will come and it is never too late. The beauty of life is that there is no clear standard for where you are supposed to be at 25. Which also segways into…

6. Stop Comparing Yourself to Other People Your Age

If you can’t handle watching other people rise to success whether it be in education or starting a family, just remove yourself from social media. However, it does not end there. You will constantly compare yourself to other women online and offline if you do not transform your mind. We have to bring our thoughts into submission in order to truly focus on the things that actually matter like actually doing the thing you have not done yet.  Instead of putting your energy into wining about why you have not started your business yet when Maria is in her 3rd year, use that energy to get your lazy-self up and get that thing done. Truth is we all have to start somewhere. Listen, I’ve been there before and I had to use my own tough love advice.

7. Travel, Travel, Travel

Yes! If you can afford it, explore the world until your heart falls out. Travel solo and safely navigate your way through foreign cities. Learn new languages and meet new people with varying perspectives until you can say ” hallo waar is de dichtstbijzijnde bushalte ?” without hesitation. You won’t regret it!

8. Be Open To Trying New Things

I’m an adventurer at heart so I get bored very quickly with the mundane order that life can sometimes provide. I enjoy order and consistency but I do not enjoy complacency. I love trying new food or talking to people from other cultural backgrounds. I am so intrigued by learning about Non-American cultures. So I have no problem eating something that may not look particularly edible to me just as long as it is not meat. If you are open to trying things, I promise you’ll always have an interesting story to tell. For example, my openness has lead me to sign-up to run a marathon this year, enroll in a software development course and bike ride aside the Swiss alps.

9. Never Date a Guy That You are Unsure About

If you are uncertain about someone just don’t do it to yourself. Relationships require honesty and if that person refuses to be open about where you both stand then that is an obvious red flag. Never Settle. You are a woman of value. Especially if he isn’t a man of God. Flee! You may end up wasting time you could have spent preparing yourself for your husband.

10.  Take Care of Your Body

Eat healthier and incorporate at least 30 minutes of exercise into your daily routine each day. Start small by doing something as simple as replacing your breakfast with a smoothie or lemon water. It’s also great for your brain. In addition, please make sure you have at least 7 hours of sleep each night. I promise you will have long term results.

11. Never Stop Learning

Read! It’s so important. It honestly should have been number one on this list. Our ability to absorb and break down information and apply it to our lives is in accordance to the way our brain processes information and this valuable tool is enhanced with reading. Truth is, we have to exercise our brains the same way we have to exercise our bodies. So you have your law degree and you’ve already obtained your license, that does not mean it’s time to settle. We should always be desiring to know more and improve ourselves. Knowledge can open so many doors.

12. Maintain Humility

Always be humble possessing gratitude at all times. Give in times of suffering. Give in times of peace. No one wants to work with a Debbie Downer or a self-consumed, confrontational person. Be empathetic, it will bring an enormous amount of peace to your environment. You will find that good team work skills are a very valuable asset across all areas of life. Just avoid drama and stay away from situations that can be potentially harmful in your life.

13. Develop a Creative Outlet or “Fear Project”

I first heard the term “fear project” from a TED Talk by Angela Ceberano who claims that creating a project that forces you outside of your comfort zone can help you relieve your fears and anxiety. She’s right. I’m sure you’ve all heard the cliche: whatever causes you fear, the best way to get over it is to just face it. Exposing myself on social media platforms like YouTube has always been one of my fears. Now I am finally facing that fear. There are many ways that blogging, vlogging, dancing, poetry, music and all other forms of art can be a really good creative outlet for you as well. It’s a great way to relieve stress and track our progress.

14. Build a Support System

Your family is your first support system. Make sure you choose at least one person that you can trust and confide in whether it is a friend or relative. And if you are grieving, do not isolate yourself and bottle your emotions. Embrace the support around you. One night with your girlfriends can really help in the healing process.

15. Do Not Be Afraid to Be You

If you want to flaunt your curly hair, do it! Do not hold back! Stop worrying about what a guy or society thinks, just remember to use a satin scarf on your hair at night to avoid frictional damage and invest in a stylist that will not potentially damage your hair. Be yourself at all times and stop worrying about criticism. If you suppress who you are, you will never grow.

The Value of Imagination

I never really understood the value of imagination until now. It has become a very useful device in our current workforce and as our world moves more toward techno-centrism, imagination will be the creative infrastructure that shapes our daily practices. So even if we try to escape it, we would have no other choice but to face it. The good thing is, we all have the capacity to use our imaginations. The thinking capacity of the human brain will always be better than a computer. Many of us just don’t have enough motivation. At least, I didn’t. In my younger days I was considered the typical “geek” or “nerd.” I loved video games so much I even dreamed about one day creating my own. I was introduced to video games at a very young age by my father and male cousins. I loved having the ability to use my imagination in a world outside of my own. It was my escape from reality. Once I left high school, my life began to change. As my journey for self-discovery began, I became less and less interested in video games and technology. I thought taking life seriously meant forgetting about things that were unreal and “child-like” and focusing on things that will gear me toward my dream job (whatever that meant back then). However, little did I know, I needed to hold on to my imagination and creativity to be better at retaining skills that would actually be useful. I was so lost but I was also honestly intimidated by tech. Growing up I watched my older cousin break down a computer and put it together again, program a website from scratch to create really dynamic static websites and interfaces. I really looked up to my cousin’s ability to do something that seemed so complex and I was so inspired to learn, asking questions everyday. Somehow between high school and my second year of college my imagination started to plummet. I no longer wanted to create things or even thought I was capable of doing so. I just wanted a decent paying job but I knew I was settling. This also made it more difficult for me to decide on choosing a major. Choosing a major to me was like choosing someone to marry and be with for the rest of my life. I was discouraged and felt incapable of successfully pursuing not only a career in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) which is considered non-traditional for a women of color but even some of the traditional careers like teaching English. So what was I to do? Well, I chose International Relations because I loved researching and studying multitudes of cultures, languages and political systems and I dreamed of someday traveling to many countries. I still have those desires and I am extremely passionate about starting my own international nonprofit organization. However, I realized how conducive technology would be in bringing that passion into fruition. Two years ago, when I first planted the seed of creating an iOS application for my nonprofit idea, I thought of hiring a web developer. Feeling limited by my finances and skills, I instantly became discouraged and abandoned the idea. If I learn how to program I wouldn’t need to hire a developer, I can just do the job myself. The thought of this was so freeing. I can now integrate my passions and by having this relevancy, will maximize my flexibility. Suddenly, I feel as if I have unlimited potential and capabilities. As I continue to pursue a career in tech, the more I am made aware of my past mistakes. I learned that one of the most detrimental things I’ve ever done was believe that I am incapable. I believed that I was not creative and that I was incapable of efficiently problem solving. Ultimately, the worst thing I’ve done was subdue my imagination. Now I have so much peace in knowing that with God anything is possible. Matthew 19:26,  “But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” KJV

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Grace

Through the many years of trials, disappointments and misunderstandings, I’ve also experienced a number of accomplishments and “good times” which caused me to overlook everything I ever complained about. But this was all a cover up, masquerading the reality that I was dying inside. Constantly searching for answers, constantly trying to resolve my issues on my own, often times using google.com and advice from friends. Atop these wonky roller coaster experiences, I was also undergoing some pretty enigmatic occurrences as well. Phenomenal things were happening. Which propelled me on this journey that I’ve been on since the year 2012. I graduated from college in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree. However, 2012 was not only a major academic milestone for me, but a spiritual one. It was the beginning of this questioning that I had, this desire to find truth outside of what I learned in school, and to find out who I really am. What woman in their early 20’s isn’t trying to find themselves, right? Meanwhile, I indulged in the “party” lifestyle thinking I can find fulfillment in that. However, there was always this level of moral consciousness prohibiting me from doing certain things. I would feel really remorseful every time I did something that didn’t seem right and I didn’t understand why until now. I eventually couldn’t understand why these activities were fun anymore and I felt like maybe something was wrong with me. I noticed that I became bored very fast with almost anything that I started which is not always a good characteristic. I hated living at home, I couldn’t find a job, I was wrestling with un-forgiveness and I was becoming really depressed. Suddenly my life changed with the accepting of a job offer and a prophesy which i’ll discuss more in detail in another post. Flash forward, about 4 years from then, I am a renewed person, flawed and all. I’ve been saved by Jesus Christ and he has been my strength since then. Yes I still make mistakes and my life is not perfect but I can’t even begin to describe how much better my life has been since then and how enthusiastic I am to share this journey with you all. He has brought me out of rough  times (and continues to) and has shed His grace and mercy on all of my sins. So I hope that if there’s one message you can take from this blog, is that I am just as human as the rest of you; I am not even close to being perfect and yet God’s Grace has covered me and transformed me and He will do the same for everyone who accepts Him. God bless you.

2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land”