Michael Jude Larocca

There and Back Again

Published on January 03, 2021

A self-taught programmer's journey of rushing through learning to code and then having to start again from the beginning.

There and Back Again

A cautionary tale to share with my "fellowship" of self-taught web developers!

The Fellowship copyright: New Line Cinema (2001)

This tale begins at the end of 2018. I was researching the best programming languages to learn in the upcoming year. Out of the suggested languages, JavaScript best suited my needs.

I decided to start my JavaScript education at Free Code Camp. On their website, they state the following message:

- If you are new to coding, we recommend you start at the beginning.

The Beginning

I thought, "thank you for your recommendation, but I'm going to start with the JavaScript course." I mean, why would I need to learn HTML and CSS if I want to code in JavaScript, right?

I began learning to code with the intention of "actually learning" JavaScript. I spent the next several months working hard and pair programming with Dylan Israel's Coding Tutorials 360 YouTube channel. What a great resource!

My learning progress was going quite well, and then I had a thought. "When I complete this JavaScript course, I will earn a certification! I can put my hard-earned JavaScript certification on my resume, and it will accelerate my career! My certification, "my precious!"

my precious

From that point on, I was consumed by the certification, "my precious." I was no longer focusing on "learning." Now I was focused on "earning."

I then gave myself a timetable when I would hold "my precious," I mean my certification. It would be at the end of June, and it would make a wonderful birthday gift for me.


Since there was a lot of studying to complete in my self-appointed timetable, I started to "pick up the pace" and push through the JavaScript course.

Then, my birthday comes and goes without earning my certification, "my precious!"

So I then reset my self-appointed timetable. I will earn the JavaScript certification by the end of December. It will be a JavaScriptmas 2020 gift for myself! Oh wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. It will be a Christmas 2019 gift for myself!

Then, Christmas 2019 comes and goes without earning my certification, "my precious!"

You Shall Not Pass

I decided it was time to take a break from learning JavaScript. I went back to the curriculum's beginning and learned HTML and CSS, as they suggested.

While taking this course, I took my time and understood what I was learning before moving forward.

When I changed my focus from "earning" to "learning," I started to make real progress.

In five months, I earned my first certification, the "Responsive Web Design Certification."


Key Points

  • If there is a suggested order for a course, follow it.
  • Do not "pick up the pace" and push through learning.
  • Prioritize "learning," not "earning" (certificates and certifications).


I now make sure to take my time and understand what I am learning before moving forward. Rushing through learning has taught me a valuable lesson of what "not to do."

Even though I'm certified in responsive web design, I continue learning, studying, and practicing the covered topics in that course.

I was there, and now I am back again studying JavaScript and making good progress. I will be returning to complete the JavaScript certification. When I do, "I shall pass," and I will finally hold "my precious!"

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