Today is my anniversary. My first anniversary, to be exact. And if it hadn’t been for my lovely, wonderful, strong, intelligent wife Jackie, I would probably still be coding in only basic HTML and CSS.
Discovering a passion
Not too long ago, I discovered my interest in building websites. It began as a passion for simply organizing layouts in a content management system (CMS) like WordPress, but I quickly discovered that I enjoyed adding custom code to my pre-built themes and designs. My custom code snippets began to grow larger and larger until I started delving into the web files themselves.
Of course I needed to expand my knowledge of HTML and CSS in order to effectively re-write code, so I asked around for some good resources. A developer friend of mine told me about Treehouse, so I began my trial and got hooked. The videos move at a learning pace, and the instructors speak in non-developer terms, at least in introductory trainings. It seemed perfect.
The problems arose with the challenges. I struggled with CSS layouts and had trouble finding the best solutions online. I also had no one to hold me professionally accountable when I failed to complete a training. What’s more, I was an aspiring web developer without a portfolio. This was all before I had asked Jackie to marry me.
Once we were engaged, my free time was consumed with wedding planning—time I loved and still cherish—and my time learning to code tapered off.
A beautiful wedding
Our wedding was perfect. The ceremony was officiated by my paternal grandfather in the sanctuary of the church that my maternal grandparents founded in the 1970s. Surrounded by everyone we love on this earth, we said our vows and began our new life together. The reception was literally the most fun I’ve ever had at a party. We rented out the Loveless Barn in Nashville and had a great time.
Taking my education seriously
I spent the first few months of my marriage nearly code-free. We made plans, hiked a lot, and traveled some. When I started to code again, it was still only basic stuff, and I still had no portfolio. But I talked about web development. A lot. I had started a new job with a great company about a month and a half before getting married. I didn’t realize then that web development was a real possibility for me. I considered it a hobby.
It wasn’t until my wonderful wife started asking questions that I considered a course correction. I started thinking of myself as a developer and coming up with paths to actually get me there. She encouraged all of it. Jackie urged me to pursue my dream, so I researched web development training programs. Though much more affordable than a university degree, these development bootcamps would still cost us a pretty penny.
Around this time, I learned that a good friend was visiting from Seattle, so I made plans to meet him for coffee at The Well Coffeehouse in Nashville. He earned a computer science degree at Lipscomb and works as a consultant, though he mentioned to me that he wants to get back into coding. The conversation we had was life-changing for me. Even though he had taken the traditional route to a development career, I left feeling confident that as long as I could effectively demonstrate my knowledge and coding skills, I could have my dream career. That changed everything for me.
After enrolling in a web development bootcamp, I quickly realized the value of a structured curriculum and a 1-on-1 mentor relationship. I’ve learned so much in a short amount of time—things I would not have thought to study without guidance: Git, the command line, Angular, to name a few. And I couldn’t have done this alone.
I have my lovely wife to thank for this journey that has already been very rewarding. Without her, I would probably still be coding simple snippets. More than that, I would be in a totally different place personally. She has changed me so much for the better, and I can’t imagine life without her.
As I mentioned earlier, today is our first anniversary. To celebrate, we went back to the site of our wedding reception and ate breakfast at the world-famous Loveless Cafe. Those biscuits are to die for.