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)