Rachel Cowles, December 2, 2015 | 2 min read

Overcoming Perfectionism

I’m a perfectionist. And not the cool, “I’m going to work on this project until it’s perfect” kind. No, I’m the “nothing will ever be perfect, so I’m not going to even bother trying” kind. Which has caused me to quit a large number of things throughout my life. Maybe I could’ve been an olympic swimmer or the next Michelangelo, but I didn’t care enough to try. Because if I truly tried, I could fail, and that’s something (I thought) I couldn’t handle.

As you can imagine, learning to code has changed that. I’ve failed in class every day for six weeks straight. Amazingly enough, the world hasn’t ended. Sometimes I even enjoy it. That’s not to say I don’t get discouraged sometimes. I do. When an error message pops up for the millionth time and it’s not even 9:00am, I want to bash my head against the wall and scream. But even when I’m frustrated beyond belief, I don’t want to quit. It just makes me want to improve. And that’s how I know that this is where I’m supposed to be, and what I’m supposed to be doing.

I never believed in the idea of “finding your passion.” I thought that was for rich kids who could afford to do whatever they wanted. Then I found Tech Talent South. This program has taught me that passion is not the overrated concept of a person being all-consumed with something, never wanting to quit, and being so naturally talented or industrious that they become this holier-than-thou “I have a DREAM” person. Passion is continuing on in spite of wanting to quit. Passion is working to improve at something you’re not naturally good at. Passion is struggling through those error messages and not wanting to kill yourself. (At least, not seriously.) Passion and success are not the absence of failure. They are the result of it.

So my advice to all the perfectionists out there who want to learn how to code? Throw away perfectionism. One, because it doesn’t even exist anyway, and two, because to be successful at anything in life, you need to fail. A lot. And it’d be nice if you could not hate yourself while you’re doing it. Failure will never be enjoyable, but becoming a better person? That’s what learning to code (and life, if we’re getting deep here) is all about.