Me and coding, before high school

Not too many people know this, but I actually started making websites in the seventh grade. I didn’t actually write them, however. During that time, I was in a club named the Muscatel Mathletes, and my math teacher, Mr. Wu, showed as how he had his own website. He was using Google Sites for it, and later, as I found out, I would be using that also to create the club’s website. I was amazed, after realizing what you could do online, and how it could help. I devoted countless hours into creating and maintaining the site. I stayed after-school everyday until about 5pm, and I worked on it two hours a day from home. But I felt like I was missing something.

I soon realized I was just scratching the surface of something that had nearly infinite possibilities. I was introduced to computer programming in the eighth grade, when I was in a Computer Literacy class. During the Week of Code, we used Scratch to learn the concepts of computer programming. At the time, I wasn’t the best at it, my mathy friends could solve the problem sets faster and could come up with far more efficient algorithms than I could. But his was only for a week. We resumed our normal typing lessons after that. That week really changed my perspective on programming, and shaped the path I would take for the next few years.

I started looking a bit more into the topic, and the deeper I delved, the more I saw that it could be a game-changer for me. In English class, we did a presentation on what we wanted to be in the future. I put software developer. But then I realized I didn’t really know anything about coding at that point (except for some basic Scratch). But luckily, summer was approaching, giving me some time to read up on it. This was when I started learning PHP, so that I could write Minecraft plugins (as I was a Minecraft enthusiast). This was where I would be at for the next year and a half. But as time passes, we change also.

After that year, I had learned a few useful languages, such as PHP, JavaScript, and HTML. I couldn’t stay at plugin scripting forever, and decided to move on. In my time of being a plugin scripter, I also learned how to design websites, games, and automate computational tasks. Being a coding enthusiast and a sophomore, I brought it into my school life and hacked together a few projects for my classes. I made a website presentation on Pi for math, a game for Fahrenheit 451 for English, and a presentation on the Yangtze River for Chinese. This was well-received by most of my teachers. I thought I had reached the peak, but the truth hit me, only a few months back, when summer started rolling in, that I was no where close to the top.

I hadn’t really had any doubts about my skills until then. Adding on to that, I haven’t been actively learning or creating anything new. One day, I was looking back at an old forums I had been on for awhile, and came across a post asking for help on matching parts of a string using regex. And another one on using SQL to query a database for some simple information. I realized that I hadn’t learned regex and SQL fully yet, I had barely grasped it when I was learning online. I didn’t know how to convert decimal into binary (base 2), or even hexadecimal (base 16). But then I remembered that I had enrolled in CIS10 at PCC for the summer, and it was there, that I realized there would be more bumps in the road than I foresaw. It was in there, that I realized I still had room for improvement. I got more than I bargained for from that class, and I’m glad I did. That’s when I realized I’ve lost my way for the last year, and decided to find my way again. I started actively improving myself again. I relearned the concepts I thought I had known but never actually did. And most importantly, I stopped thinking so highly of myself. And that, has made all the difference.

I still ask myself every now and then, “Why didn’t I start earlier?” This is one of my biggest regrets, up to this point. It all comes down to experience. I’ve always looked up to Mark Zuckerberg, who built a program connecting his home to his father’s office, named ZuckNet. He was only 10 years old. I was 14 when I started. Four years could’ve made all the difference. But then I always tell myself, “It’s better late than never.”. Some people started learning in their mid-twenties, some even in their thirties, but they were successful. If they could do it, I could do it. And that was pretty much all I needed, to regain my confidence.

For me, the past few years were mountains that needed to be climbed. The past few months, a river that needed to be crossed. These are all just stepping stones to what is around the corner. It’s closer than you think.

(Originally from my Facebook post)

Me and coding, before high school
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