After the longest break from blogging since I started in 2016, I’m back! The past few months have been different and difficult. Since I last wrote I took on a part-time job, taught on a Code First: Girls course, got accepted for an undergraduate research position, HackSussex won a student award and… I left the part-time job. Honestly, it’s been a difficult start to the year 🤷🏻♂️
The key thing I’ve learned about myself since I last posted is that I can be extremely stubborn. In fact, I already knew that. To be more specific, I learned that I have a tendency to make myself busy. There’s good reason for this: I haven’t always been that kind of person! As I’ve grown older, I’ve become better at keeping myself motivated and having general self discipline - its something that I’m proud of. After leaving TRIM-IT earlier this year, I was excited to see what I might do with my newfound free time… in fact to quote my last post I specifically said that I would be “focusing on my studies, earning some money and focusing on myself!”
Just finished a great session of #CodeFirstGirls teaching version control & GitHub - I have to say this one of the most rewarding uses of my time, I enjoy seeing everyone learn these new concepts AND I'm also learning so much myself. Looking forward to next Thursday already 🚀— Elliot Massen (@elliotmassen) February 22, 2018
One of the best uses of this time in the past few months has to be being an instructor on a Code First: Girls course at university. This was my first time doing any teaching outside of HackSussex and I really enjoyed it. Between February and April, me and five other instructors taught a class of women and non-binary students the basics of web development over eight sessions. It was great to help facilitate the class’ learning and see everyone progress! It also forced me to brush up on some stuff too which is never a bad thing. My favourite part was seeing all the cool sites that everyone made at the end of the course - it reminded me how much is possible with the web! If you’re interested to find out more about what Code First: Girls do you should find out more. I believe that the course should be running again at Sussex next academic year so if you’re interested in learning how to make websites keep an eye out for it!
As I mentioned, another aim was to earn some money. In mid-February I started a part-time role (as a web developer) and I began enjoying regular income again 💰 Not only was this one of my goals but it was actually very necessary as I needed the money for rent!! However after some time I started to notice that I was struggling with my university work more than I ever had before. Rather than act on this, I decided that I could endure it and made no changes to better the situation. By this time the majority of my financial worries had been resolved due to this income and a freelance job.
Weeks later, while I had slightly reduced my hours, the situation had only gotten worse: I had even more coursework, I was behind with my studying and for the first time in years I was having migraines again. There was a part of me that was still being stubborn, I still believed that I could endure it, even though I wasn’t giving my best at uni. To be honest I most likely would have continued if not for Kirsty and my mum, who helped me to see the situation I had gotten myself in. I’m very grateful for their guidance! It was sobering and made me realise how much strain I had put on myself. So I decided to leave the job.
But it pained me to do it! Looking back I think its because I have this perception of myself always being able to overcome obstacles. I forgot that it doesn’t have to be always, sometimes I am going to bite off more than I can chew, and I need to be able to know when I have. I guess I needed to learn this lesson twice! I certainly didn’t intend to start the year off this way, but its definitely helped me to re-evaluate what’s important to me.
Me & Pete accepting the student award for Best Event of the Year
Besides teaching the web dev course, another highlight was HackSussex winning the student award for best event of the year! I really didn’t expect that we would win, so it was a lovely surprise!! We’re very excited to put on an even bigger and better event this year. Also, I got accepted to be a Junior Research Associate at uni over the summer! I’ll be looking at how we can explain the predictions of machine learning models, which I’m so so so excited for. I really didn’t think that I’d have chance to do this sort of stuff for a very long time - I’m so excited to see what I will learn. More on that another time.
We're honoured to have received the Sussex student award for best event of the year! Thank you so much to everyone who made HackSussex 2017 possible! ✨ Here's to the next one!! https://t.co/1fPEAKjerx— HackSussex (@HackSussex) May 5, 2018
In May me and Kirsty went up to London for the #YSYSBrunch too, which was really great! We met some amazing people there and had a really good time. It was lovely to celebrate the community that’s being built 🎉 In fact, the YSYS website just launched yesterday if you’re interested to find out more.
I always feel a little odd writing posts like these. I really want to relay my progress in an honest way but I struggle to find a comfortable way to write it. To tell the truth: the past few months have been really tricky. I turned 23 in March and didn’t feel like celebrating it much. I’m very aware that sometimes I can use this space more like an Instagram feed, highlighting my “best moments”, and I want to make sure that I’m giving the other side of that too. It’s really easy for me to just be selective, skip over the mistakes and wrong turns - but that’s simply not reality unfortunately.
Anyway, hopefully now I should return to a more regular cycle of these posts. I’m also still committed to blogging more outside of this format, hopefully summer should be a good time for that! I have a lot of topics that I’d like to cover such as the peer-to-peer web and getting started with static generated sites. Let me know if there’s anything you’d specifically like me to cover!