see Dee learn;

Today: Some ramblings on the attainment of self-confidence through learning for highly anxious individuals.

The process of learning to regularly express and feel self-confidence may or may not be easy, for some. There are scores of lists detailing everything from smiling more, to forgiving more wholeheartedly, to simply pretending to be self-confident. I wrote a few days ago about how I fully believe in the process of becoming what you want to be by believing you already are. Today, I am writing about yet another method: a method that can be far more humbling.

A few days ago I finished my first running JavaScript Program (or, at least, my first running JavaScript program created without the step-by-step guide of a tutorial). It’s a simple, rather useless program that uses little pop-up confirmation boxes to simulate the card game War between a user and a computer. It was fairly difficult to write, in that I spent several hours dealing with individual parts (or functions), researching methods I half-remembered or, at times, seeing if someone had already written a simple function (for example: a function that shuffled an array) that I could then modify to fit my purposes. It was important, for me, every step of the way, to write out as many interpretations of problems and of solutions as I could think of, in order to better grasp the nature of what it means to use JavaScript. Now that I am working on a new program, a simulation of the card game Go Fish, much of what I worked through in the War program has come in handy, and I intend to continue to build off what I’ve written, not to memorize but to construct and practice a certain method of thinking.

The attempt to visualize and wholly grasp an entirely new method of thinking in learning a new task is something I started using about two years ago when I became absolutely determined to learn how to draw. My reasoning, fueled by information in the book Drawing On The Right Side of The Brain, followed that if this is a task I have never succeeded in before, then I must try to find ways to simulate a thought-process I have never engaged in before. It also followed that, if it is a skill I am attempting to learn because I have seen others do it, then those others, whether they are consciously aware of it or not, have the information about that new thought-process that I need and it is best practice to attain it by figuring out, with them if possible, what it is about the way they view the world that led them to forming that thought-process. A long-winded explanation, perhaps, but that is my understanding.

I have never been consistently a good student in school. That is, as early as I can remember, I have never had any kind of working relationship with homework. Either I’d do it in-class or not at all. Either I’m dedicated for a week and then burn-out or I simply straggle along behind the rest of the class, grasping the material, even being excited by the material, but refusing to take the risk of making an honest effort. This has started to get better in college, but part of that is because, when I do forget to do my homework, I have the option of simply not going to class. I don’t have to face the knowledge that, despite my desire to be a good student, this teacher has direct evidence that I am not. Sometimes skipping class for the sake of not having to face the teacher without an assignment has helped. Knowing that I have an extra couple of days or even a week can be exactly the boost I need to get on top of something I should have already been on top of. Sometimes skipping class just meant I failed the class.

Whether these issues stem from my high-level of constant anxiety, or whether the anxiety stems from this being my relationship with school for as long as I can remember, I have no idea. I’ve been prompted towards seeking a diagnosis for ADD and I’ve been prompted towards seeking a diagnosis for GAD. Call it pride or call it determination, though, I am inclined to find answers for myself as often as possible. And in many ways, I have found methods of thinking, and doing, that work to strengthen my confidence that I am exactly what my teachers have always told me I am: very smart, very capable, and very lazy. And the lazy part tends to go away on its on when being lazy will cost you a meal on a daily basis (being broke may be one of the best things that ever happened to my work ethic).

Back to my paragraph about learning to code, not only is the thought-process behind programming something I am seeking to understand, but the thought-process behind learning to program is equally important to me, just like the thought-process behind learning to draw is what initially piqued my interest, not in learning new things for the sake of themselves, but learning new things in order to practice the very art of learning and adaptation. Because in this process there comes a sort of humility that is nothing like shame or fear – in the knowledge that I know very little, almost nothing, that comes with the process of learning something new, there is nothing like a fear of failure (or success), the likes of which terrorized me through public school to the point of mental paralysis. With every new thing, I have to let that thing become an integrated part of my daily life. The question of whether or not I’m good at programming, when I spend several hours a week dedicated simply to doing it, becomes obsolete, and loses its power over me.

Whether or not this is a typical assessment of how to gain self-confidence that is much more effectively practiced than understood, a fully-integrated understanding of what it means to let go of self-doubt has cost me years, not to mention frustration, sweat, and tears. I don’t believe that I’m anywhere near where I want to be as a person, but I’m no longer very afraid that I’ll never get there, because I make it a point to remind myself that I am always capable of learning more. The habits I am choosing to develop are about nothing more, and nothing less, than constantly being engaged, consciously and eagerly, with the learning process.

I had to edit this post severely because I didn’t feel it was the best it could be. šŸ™‚ Now I feel that it is very nearly what I wanted.

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