Finding My Magic

“Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” – Roald Dahl

I am what one would call a multipotentialities-type of person. For those left wondering, multipotentiality is an educational and psychological term referring to the ability and preference of a person, particularly one of strong intellectual or artistic curiosity, to excel in two or more different fields. In the Georgian Era, one would describe me as accomplished by certain standards – I sadly do not play the pianoforte, so we can rule that off the list of accomplishments held to high standards during that period.

With all of my continual learning, research, experiences, and passions I found myself earlier this year (January 2019) wondering where my magic had gone. My life took a sharp change in direction last fall, one of facing a decision to either continue on with the direction my life was going or make a drastic change in my career. It was not until January that someone close to me, who works in the field as a Data Scientist/Engineer, opened my eyes to a pathway I had thought closed to me – programming.

How does one go from having worked as a legal assistant and freelance technical/general writer with a varied background in design and management even begin to transition into programming? Would I have to go back to college? With so many questions, the only answer I knew was that no matter how I approached learning languages, frameworks, and anything else that would even prepare me to be hirable would take hard work and dedication of time.

So, once I decided that this was a potential pathway for me I began with a few videos to determine which avenue I would take – front end, back end, data analytics, full-stack, and the list goes on. As a creative type, it was not out of character for me to gravitate to front end development. Just the basics were enough to spark the magic I was looking for. Once I had a general idea of what my focus would be my friend sat down to thoughtfully curate a Trello Board, New Pathway, with a detailed outline of what I would need to study – HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and so much more.

As the months have passed, my self-learning curriculum has included material from Pluralsight, Udacity, EdX, Youtube, and more recently taking several offered classes through OK Coders Bootcamp. From the moment everything was set up and my MacBook was primed – I dedicated anywhere from 4 to some days almost 10 hours to learning how to code. The sacrifice of making such a drastic career pivot meant taking a step back from areas of my life I had previously dedicated time. My friends were very understanding of this new focus. The support was readily given, it fueled me in ways that I find myself unsure how to even begin to repay them for.

This change and pivot not only affects myself but my two boys. I not only work to provide them a life where they can freely explore their own avenues of interest but serve as an example to them that one can learn anything they set their mind to – I have seen how intrigued they both are in my studies.

My oldest son, age 9, looks up to my dear friend (before mentioned Data Scientist/Engineer who has and remains one of my biggest supporters) as a strong male role model in the field – he recently described my friend as a “coding scientist who does programming and has talked to Ted.” I love the viewpoint that children have upon the world. His admiration for my friend combined with seeing me commit myself to learning and the related projects has sparked his interest in programming. He is a lover of math and science but now he, too, finds himself answering the siren’s call of programming at a very early age. My youngest, age 7, is equally intrigued by programming he is finding his passion through his love of arts, music, and math. I can only hope that as my children explore the world around them through what drives them that they will also be open to continual learning. Nothing thrills me more than the knowledge that my boys are as excited about learning as I am. We can go far in the world if we embrace a culture of continual learning.

As I observe my children to see what inspires or excites them, I consider my own interests both past and present. I have always gravitated towards technology beyond buying new gadgets. The history of our technological advance has always greatly fascinated me. While I am a published Occult and Paranormal Historian, my love of history has greatly intertwined with my fascination with technology and artificial intelligence. My slight obsession with A.I. reached the extent of writing a paper for a Professor years ago titled “I For One Welcome Our Robotic Overlords” which garnered mild amusement and a full passing grade. The paper discussed the past and future expansion of artificial intelligence in our society from military to civilian applications. I do have some interest in pursuing studies related to A.I. technology, but for now, programming, in general, fills my need to expose myself to an endless well of research and learning.

I am the type of person who commits themselves whole-heartedly into their passions and work. I embrace what inspires me. I dedicate myself to what I commit to. Programming became my new unwavering life obsession to the degree that if anyone gives me a moment of their time I will sing the praise of learning something new – most importantly learning to code. The possibilities of our industry to bring in people who can find their passion and career is amazing. The communities, the boot camps, and the schools opening to those who seek to change their career path are inspiring.

As of today, I continue this journey. I have not stopped absorbing all that I can to learn all that I can. My current focus is learning React, Node.js, MySQL, and several other areas that not only pique my interest but enhance my abilities as a developer. In the future, I want to take on the role of mentor and teacher to those seeking to find their own magic through programming. One might say I have a lifelong passion for sharing not only odd history with anyone who will listen or read my book (my next book coming out next year) but now that includes programming and all that it can offer to those willing to put in the time to learn. It is not an easy path, finding one’s magic never is, but if you are willing to take the time to learn and study it can be rewarding in its own right.

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