Empowered: Week 6

I always say the only thing that makes me truly happy is personal progress. After my presentation today, I can successfully say I have progressed with my public speaking.

Today, us Empowered girls went to Doe Anderson to present our mockup websites for FutureUp. As normal, I was a nervous wreck. I was trying to run over what I was going to say in my head, but I kept forgetting. Every time I thought about presenting in front of these really important people, my stomach started to hurt and my mouth grew dry. Right up until the point I introduced myself, I was convinced I was going to make a fool of myself.

Then, I said it. “Hello everyone, my name is Akwellé Quaye.” I felt myself smile, and my voice projected throughout the room. After that, I could feel the confidence radiating off of me as I presented. I made eye contact with many people in the room, my stuttering was at a minimum, if not nonexistent. Now, this isn’t that unnatural for me, but usually, I had to focus very hard to make sure I presented myself well. Today, my only thoughts while I was up there were on my mockup website. I felt like someone had taken over my body, but I was benefitting from it. Symbiosis. A year ago, even a month ago, I wouldn’t have been able to have such a good presentation without thinking about it. Today? It was a breeze.

Finishing today successfully made me realize something else: I managed my time extremely well with this project. I had many other projects, some involving Empowered and others having nothing to do with Empowered, or even programming. Last school year, I was really bad at handling my school work, but now, I feel like I would be able to handle a school load even harder than this one and hardly break a sweat. Presenting at Doe Anderson, and preparing for said presentation, made me a more confident, calm web developer and presenter. This was a truly great experience.

Empowered: Week 5

WordPress is kind of a pain in the side. There is so much you can’t do! Before I started using HTML and CSS, I had used WordPress before, I was fine with it.  It was the best option for me at the time; it gave me a lot more flexibility than any other CMS and I could use it for free. Now, though, I can use CSS to make everything exactly how want it to look. It’s a little tricky editing CSS in pre-styled themes that don’t have detailed comments, so if something’s not to your liking, you either suck it up or attempt to find it in the CSS editor and risk making your website do really weird things. I’ve been sticking with the former, and even though my sites look decent, there’s so much more I want to do.

Oh, well. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m impatient, and WordPress is a much faster alternative to coding a website entirely using HTML and CSS, so that somewhat makes for the limited customization, and it’s pretty easy. Besides, like I mentioned earlier, it’s not like my sites are simple or not aesthetically pleasing. They’re just not what I want, and it’s been a little frustrating.

In my Week 2 post, I mentioned “Trusting the Process,” and I tried to trust the process of my journey with WordPress. It was a little disappointing. At this point, I just want to get a huge cup of coffee, play some R&B jams, and get back to HTML.

Empowered: Week 4

I love vacations. They really help me clear my mind and come back more productive. I was going through a bit of a rut when it came to my endurance during the work day, but every chance I had to work, I was completely focused on whatever I was working on! I’m really motivated to come back next week and continue working productively.

I also love working with people. If I’m doing something just for the sake of doing something, it won’t work out. I’ll make excuses, move on to one of the other billion things I want to do, and before I know it, I’ll just leave my project to collect dust. So, I try to have someone or something to be accountable to, whether it be a person, my grades, or a reward I’ve set for myself (if I exercise a certain amount per week, I’ll treat myself to a new goodie from Ulta). Right now, as I work on this website for FutureUp, I have someone to hold me accountable: my partner, Shamia! We’ve set goals to get this project done in time, and I really don’t want to disappoint her (which would disappoint me). So, I’m going to do my best work, and we’re both going to be happy.

Another reason I like working with people is because we get to bounce ideas off of each other. Sometimes, I have trouble coming up with concepts, and the concepts I do come up with aren’t the best. With this website, Shamia and I can filter through all my ideas, and she can give some new ideas I would’ve never thought of. Two pairs of eyes are better than one and all that cool stuff.

This is probably the most excited I’ve been during the program. In the beginning, I was hopeful, but now, I’m practically bursting. I want to keep doing new things! This is fun.

Empowered: Week 3

During the last three weeks, coding a website by myself has taught me a lot. For one, I have learned that I cannot sit and focus for a long time. I will sit and code for about half an hour, scroll through Twitter for five minutes, watch some tutorials on Treehouse (and during my time on Treehouse, I’ll jump around from looking at CSS, to HTML, to WordPress, to JavaScript), meet with my partners for a few minutes and work on our partner projects, then start the whole routine again. So, it’s a little difficult for me to show concrete proof of my advancements at the end of the day. However, I’m okay with that because I know I’m learning!

 

I also have discovered a creative side to me. While I do dabble in creative photography, color schemes and layouts weren’t something I’d ever tried or thought I would try. However, when doing the CSS for my site, I was struck with a sudden burst of inspiration, and I’ve been surprising myself with the simple, yet beautiful presentation I’m bringing to my website. The only drawback to this is that I have so many awesome ideas but because I’m still learning, I’m not exactly sure how to do that yet. I’m excited to learn, though!

Empowered: Week 2

This week, I’ve had a lot of breakthroughs. I’ve really gotten to understand how everything works together in HTML and CSS. I can diagnose and fix a lot of the bugs in my code, and I have a better understanding of what everything means. I can sit for a while and work independently on code, and I’m very proud of that. I feel like when I learn something new, I commit it to my long term memory and that I’m not just receiving new information; I’m internalizing it.

 

This week, I have also had some setbacks. It takes many hours to get even one simple website complete with all the text and styles desired. As a person who is pretty impatient, I just want everything to look nice after working for 30 minutes. So, when, after two hours, I’m not even halfway through what I have envisioned, I get really frustrated. This leads me to become restless, unfocused, and even a little aggravated. One could say that I feel unempowered. However, by the end of the week, I became a little more accustomed to the slow pace that comes with coding, and I set small goals for myself, so I can be happy with my product. One of the people that help us with our coding, Sasank, has repeated the phrase “Trust the process,” and I keep that in mind every time I get a little inside my head.

 

I’ve also been holding on to the few things I don’t completely understand. I feel like I cannot move on unless I have an extremely strong grasp on a topic, no matter how small or insignificant the topic is. Google has been my best friend when it comes to this, and I’ve become more comfortable with asking my coworkers and people in the office to clarify things for me. Again, me trusting the process and accepting the fact that I will understand concepts better as I learn more has been a good mechanism that helps me not grow frustrated.

 

Overall, I have made progress that I can hold onto, even if that progress is pretty slow. As long as I keep growing patience and the ability to embrace the unknown, I’ll be able to move on the way I want to and stay empowered.

Empowered: Week 1

I have been trying to get the hang of coding since I was 12 years old. I have tried different websites and talk to different people who are good at teaching coding. Every time I attempted to code, I enjoyed the activity, but I never remembered how to do it in the long run. It was more of a game for me, rather than gaining a skill. Before I started Empowered, I thought I was going to have the same experience. I was a little scared, because I didn’t want me coding to be a waste of time.

However, I was very wrong. I am already playing with the HTML and CSS in my website away from the tutorials, and getting the results that I hoped for! I understand everything I’m doing, and I’m moving much faster than I thought I would. Even though it’s only the first week, I feel like I have gained a lot of skill when it comes to coding.

This is not to say I haven’t made mistakes. There have been times where I’ve completely messed up, and my website shows it. However, I was able to fix my mistakes, learn about the issue, and remember how to do things moving forward. Me fixing my mistakes has been the most efficient learning tool for me, and I’m glad that I made them. I hope I make more.

Moving along, I am so confident when it comes to coding! I want to make so many websites, and I am ready to implement this skill into my real-world, outside of the Empowered office. I’m ready to learn more next week.