Photo by David Pupaza on Unsplash
"Fail fast" applies to humans as well as software
My bootcamp odyssey ends in new beginnings
3 min read
I write 3 days after leaving but not finishing the bootcamp.
We had reached the project phase of the bootcamp and had spent a week learning about Agile practices and working in teams on our project ideas. We refined our ideas with the help of the tutors and settled on our final idea.
Our idea used some new tech that we had not come across before Flutter instead of React and a new programming language, Dart. We had covered the principles of building a front end so using a new library seemed doable.
We were due to start coding last Monday the 24th January. Over the weekend before I started worrying about the steep learning curve ahead and with only 8 days to code the whole app, I knew it would be tough.
I didn't sleep well on the Sunday night before and was feeling very stressed about the task ahead. I was a member of a team so there was pressure there not to let them down and my own internal pressure prayed on my mind as we started coding on Monday.
Anyway to cut a long day short, I could not focus, there was so much to do, so little time. Must keep up for the team. These thoughts kept swirling and affected my concentration which meant I could not focus - ever heard of recursion???
Come 5pm I stepped away, not having acheived much at all, with a background throb in my head. That evening I tried to forget the disastrous day but could not.
That night I hardly slept, head spinning with the self-imposed stress and external pressures. The throb developed into a bad headache. Early Tuesday morning I started getting a kind of kaleidoscopic aura with circular flickering colours. I have had this before, a few years ago, during a particularly stressful period.
I messaged my team to tell them I could not code that day. The headache got worse, like my head was in a vice, restricting the space in my head for me. I stayed in a darkened bedroom all day and only got up late in the evening. By that point my wife and I had decided that I could not continue with the bootcamp as I could not cope with the stress which would still be there tomorrow.
I went to bed again and stayed there till lunchtime Wednesday when the symptoms has faded a bit.
The bootcamp tutors offered me the chance to join another cohort's project phase in a couple of weeks. I briefly thought about it but decided enough was enough, I learnt my limitations by failing fast. In my 58th year, I am happy with my decision - I'll leave the stress to the youngsters!
In many ways the project was the icing on the cake - I can build a back end and front end for an app. My ambition was never to get a whizzy job - just learn some skills and use them to do some good. I can do that now. Coding is a habit and I've got the bug.
I hope that failure, despite the connotations of the word, can open doors that I did not see before. Bring it!