When I was in the sixth grade, I had a gym teacher who was really, and I mean, REALLY enthusiastic about exercising. He claimed to shower three times a day, because that’s just how much he exercised. I thought he was absolutely nuts, because it’s one thing to enjoy exercise for the endorphins, but what sane person exercises that much? In the week before we went on holiday break, I remember that he said to us that Christmas should not be a time to sit around and stop taking care of your physical health. A lot of people view it as an excuse to neglect their usual exercise routines, but he viewed the long holiday as an opportunity – with the extra downtime, he could do EVEN MORE LEG PRESSES!

Having gone through an intensive 12 weeks of learning to code, I think I finally understand why he was so passionate about exercising, and why he chided people who shirked off during the holidays. The way that most people approach exercise is that it’s a means towards some meaningful end — physical fitness, mental wellbeing, self-esteem, whatever. The majority of people who hit the gym don’t do it for the sake of going to the gym. The holidays provide an excuse to take a break from doing something that we fundamentally find to be kind of unpleasant.

It’s Christmas morning, and I’m still sitting here watching online tutorials and doing katas to push myself to improve my Javascript skills. To an extent, it is ends-oriented: I want to land a job as a junior developer, and to do so, my technical skills need to stand out. But on the other hand, I can honestly say that I have never genuinely wanted to sit down and learn, in quite the same way that I want to take my coding skills further.

I’m generally not really a person who learns new things for the pure sake of learning — I think I can actually be pragmatic to a fault sometimes. However, maybe because in part coding feels like a tangibly beneficial skill to develop, I am finding that I really enjoy what happens when a new concept just “clicks”. It’s kind of an incredible feeling… like succeeding at assembling a piece of IKEA furniture. You have all these bits floating around your brain that feel kind of arbitrary and random, until things start to fit together and you feel like you’re beginning to access the underlying logic of object-oriented design.

People say that coding is addictive. I’m beginning to see why. The practice of coding is what you make of it – you can hack together a web application in pure Javascript in a day, or you can spend a week designing an organized, logical, maintainable piece of code that reflects an enormous amount of care and deliberation. Doing the first thing is easy; the second thing is really, really hard, and will test a developer at any level.

Merry Christmas all; happy developing :)