March 29, 2010

Head of the Class

From an unnamed university in the greater San Francisco Bay Area...

Yesterday I took an HTML class for work, something I'll be doing for the next five Mondays in a row. Presumably, come May, I'll be able to spruce the hell out of this blog with my extensive programming knowledge, but for now I can tell you that <> means paragraph and HTML is apparently "white-space insensitive."

I'm more or less ambivalent to learning HTML. I recognize it as a useful skill and was fine with it when my boss told me she thought I should take the class, especially since I get to miss work to do so. What I really enjoy is being a student again. Not because I have an insatiable thirst for knowledge, but because I really love affirmations and being better than other people. When I am in a class, be it computer or Zumba, I feel unnaturally compelled to the best. I am 100% sure that this is because I am an only child, and was thus the de facto best at everything in my household during all my formative years.

But here's the thing: I am not the best at a lot of stuff. Not at Zumba, and certainly not at HTML. Also, if there's one thing I cannot do, it's listen to someone give a set of linear instructions and then follow them, another trait I attribute to being an only child. I like to do things when I like to do them, how I like to do them, and in the order I like to them. This approach does not set me up for success in this class, where the teacher loves to say things like:

"Download Firefox Firebug but do not restart your browser until you've installed the Web Developer add-on. Then bring up TextMate with basics.html and put it into preview mode by simultaneously pressing ctrl + option + command + P." Meanwhile, I'm playing solitaire and Googling "24 hour brownie delivery".

So I've developed a new goal: to not be the worst. It's one that serves me well in my athletic endeavors; sure I'd love to PR or place in my age group, but as long as I'm not dead last, I consider myself successful. Luckily for me, there's a 40-year-old mom in my class who asks the instructor to repeat almost everything, giving me the opportunity to roll my eyes at the other young, tech-saavy people in the class, while secretly scrambling to catch up during his slower, more condescending set of instructions.

Some people, when unable to reach their goals, try harder. I just change my goals.

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