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The Boot Camp Diaries Week 3: Coder, Interrupted

I’m watching a video of lecture in the hospital. I’m in the waiting room and there’s a woman with short, grey hair whose eyes dart between my screen and the notepad balanced on my knees on which I’m scribbling code. Maybe she’s a coder who’s interested in what I’m working on. Or maybe, like me, she’s just trying to distract herself from worrying about whoever she’s waiting for. For what feels like the hundredth time, I back up the video and rewatch the last five minutes, because I haven’t been able to focus on anything that was said. I just really need my brother to be okay.

When I signed up for coding boot camp at LEARN Academy, I made a commitment to myself. The worst thing I could think of would be looking back on the experience and wishing I had invested myself more completely. Yes, I’m still working, but that’s all I’m doing. I’m not taking on new freelance copywriting clients, or staying up late, or going out on the weekends. I’m focusing, studying, practicing, and prioritizing my education and my future. Or, I was, until this past week.

You know how there’s a point in your life when you realize your parents are human beings, with things like weaknesses and flaws? I never really had that moment with my brother. He’s eighteen years older than me, and all my life I’ve watched him climb trees with spiked boots, rappel down cliffs, and fly across valleys on zip lines he strung up himself. I knew he wasn’t a perfect person, but all the evidence pointed to fearless and quite possibly immortal. Then he told me he needed hip replacement surgery, and he was afraid.

I had a long talk with my partner and decided I couldn’t go. My brother lives several cities away, almost a five-hour drive. I’d have to miss class, and at this point, that means falling behind. After a lifetime of putting other people first and failing to set or enforce my boundaries, I finally had a strong incentive to safeguard my time and priorities.

As the date of his surgery drew near, my heart grew heavier. I didn’t feel right about the decision I had made. I’ve been raised on the concept of “family first”, and although it’s not a practice any relatives outside my immediate family demonstrate, it is nonetheless an essential part of my personal belief system. Besides, even if I was physically present in class, mentally I would be worrying about my brother. Technically he’s an adult, but when I cleaned out his fridge after he was released from the hospital I removed three separate pizza boxes, two bags of fast food, and a carton of milk that expired in December. Of 2016. As it is currently May of 2019, I’ll trust you now have some idea of why I didn’t feel comfortable with him going it alone – or supported by his roommate (who claimed most of the food was his) or his friends (whose refrigerators I have not seen, but suspect are in similar conditions).

So on Tuesday night I made the drive from San Diego to Santa Maria. On Wednesday I sat with him and distracted him by swapping stories from our childhoods and planning camping trips for after he’s recovered and I’m a proud boot camp grad. Then I sat in the waiting room for five hours and spent the entire time watching the recording of the lecture from class, which was about ninety minutes long. I’d watch five minutes, realize I hadn’t heard a word because my mind had wandered into Worry Town, rewind and try again. Then post-surgery I interrogated the surgeon and sat by my groggy brother’s side until 11pm, at which point I made the drive back to San Diego. After a three-hour nap I glided through Thursday retaining pretty much nothing. Friday was a little better, but then it was back up to Santa Maria on Friday night to collect my brother from the hospital and get him set up for the week ahead (he’s recovering nicely and physical therapy is going well!).

I want to take a moment to say that I’m proud of myself. I’m proud that the decision to sacrifice even a minute of class was difficult, and I’m proud that I ultimately made the decision that felt best to me. Regardless of what you would have done in my shoes, I have no regrets. Although, if anyone is out there working on teleportation technology, definitely keep it up. Driving 20+ hours over the course of five days is not my idea of a good time.

All that to say, despite our best efforts, sometimes life gets in the way. You can try to clear your schedule and set your priorities, but shit happens. Which is why this blog is just getting finished now, despite this actually being the weekend after week four. If you’re reading this, just know that your best is good enough, whatever that looks like. If you had a plan and it got derailed by life, that’s okay. Shake it off and keep on going.

</ XOXO >

[Photo credit: Adi Goldstein via Unsplash]

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