With any great triumph comes numerous essential failures, and this week’s success has been no exception. Every setback seems monumental, while every achievement seems minimal. To balance the discouragement that inevitably comes with success-failure thinking, I’ve begun to consider how process is important, essential, to the finished project. I would learn so much less without my failures, without the useless nuggets of information I’ve now accumulated, without the tools I’ve mastered but ultimately won’t use.
This week, I voyaged into the world of coding, having previously never attempted this means of Internet communication. After an hour of frustration accumulating in a mental mini-tantrum of anguish, I resigned myself to watching arduous Python tutorials. I quickly found out that reading the instructions was a very good method of understanding how to use a product, and vowed to humble myself to technology more often than I do, in order to avoid tantrums future. Note to self: coding is not something intuitive. I can cut corners by shampooing and conditioning simultaneously to save time, by sleeping in my clothes for the next day, and by getting two meals out of Olive Garden by filling up on breadsticks and taking my entrée home. I cannot cut corners with coding.
Maybe that’s been my biggest lesson of this week: learning how to respect the process. Learning how to recognize when things will take time. Expecting things to be difficult but doing them anyway. Being comfortable learning something new, being bad at it, being okay with that frustration. Not giving up on a tool or a line of research just because it seems daunting. If you’re not learning something new, doing something wrong, or making yourself uncomfortable, then maybe you’re not researching properly. Or passionately. Because research should be both proper and passionate, in my opinion.
This week, I also learned that success is relative. After working for two hours, I managed to use Python to code a simple responsive bot, which would regurgitate simple questions like “What is your name?” and “What is your major?” and offer a response. The first person I excitedly showed my bot to was significantly less than impressed. I think that my simple exploit into coding elicited a pause, followed by, “That’s it?” Needless to say, this less than enthusiastic response brought me down a few notches. But that’s why success is relative. Maybe this person didn’t know that I had no experience in coding, or didn’t know I had worked so long on it, or maybe they were just downright underwhelmed. But I’m going to allow myself to take pride in the tiny successes prompted by hard work. I’m going to let myself take joy in the small advances when they come preceded by difficulties. Validation is a pretty decoration that I find myself often seeking, but I shouldn’t rely on others for motivation and praise. I will take my successes, big and little, and celebrate them without need or desire for substantiation or compliment.