A Professional Quitter

Carissa Sarreal
4 min readOct 4, 2020


Here I am at 36 years old having just completed my first CLI project as part of Flatiron School’s Full Time Software Developer Program. By complete, I meaning my code worked. I still have my assessment to pass.

It only took 12 straight hours and 15 mins of crying- a huge upgrade to 30 mins of crying myself to sleep after giving up on a lab to get some sleep and trying again the next day.

It would be so easy to just give up, or go part time. My cohort lead said I still had 2.5 days to finish the project and study up on the material better. I felt this immense feeling to flee. I realized I never fought for myself.

I can actually trace it back to 2nd grade ballet class. One day, I just didn’t want to do it anymore. My mother had bought all the tights and tutus of every color for me. For some reason, I just stopped going. I quit piano lessons as well at 11 years old for lack of interest. I wanted to play other music outside of my piano books, like pop songs or famous classical compositions, but I had to play what my instructor wanted, so I lost the interest. I took up a huge series of interests in high school extracurriculars but never mastered anything. One day I thought it would be cool to learn saxophone. I begged my mother to get me one. She knew me so well then.. she said she was afraid I would quit, and buying it was going to cost a lot of money. She asked me to take a few lessons first and borrow an instrument before buying my own. Sure enough, after 2 lessons discovering how difficult it was to master breath, I gave it up. I was playing soccer at the time, and not to be good at it, but to just be included in a team. I didn’t graduate high school (in the Philippines with the rest of those classmates. I luckily transferred back to the USA where the age difference put me in my regular graduating class. My credits were accepted and the school didn’t pay much attention to me since it was the last half of the school year. I also dropped out of college when my student aid did not come in on time and I couldn’t afford my last year.

I did not pass the first time I took my WSET 3 exam. I delayed taking the exam again. I met Michael and I stopped studying to look into taking the exam again.

Everything I have done in my life has never been 100% completed.

Now I am in this bootcamp, and the pressure is far more immense than anything I’ve ever felt in my life. And while I can just give up because I’m not sure if my heart is 100% in it, I don’t have another plan on how to learn new skills that wouldn’t take another year to master. I’ve always been so envious of those who work on computers. Michael’s mastery of a computer makes me so sad I gave up owning one for over 10 years. I feel left behind now on how to work these things. When I bought this new laptop, it was like learning how to drive all over again. My Google skills are terrible (which is weird because I can search for anything on my phone and get all of life’s information from navigating that). I have to re-learn what all the function and hotkeys are.

I have no excuse though to not do it, to not succeed at it. This time of unemployment and no commitments is the best and only time I’ve got to do something new for myself. So why can’t I commit to the work to absorb this material??? I don’t hate it. It’s still very interesting to me- like solving puzzles when you debug something. Building code is like putting little Legos or Kinex pieces together to build something grander. It requires so much more patience because I can’t see and feel the work until the output test. You can be in the middle of cooking to know when it’s about to burn, or when the ingredients are off. If coding was like cooking, you won’t know you’ve made a mistake until you’ve tasted it. I suppose those skills to spot a mistake will develop over time.

I just ask the Lord now, why can’t I get my headspace where it needs to be to absorb this material? My focus isn’t elsewhere. As much as I would love to play video games or sew or dance, the guilt is there I shouldn’t be doing those things and need to study. I’m praying and praying for some guidance, some sort of sign, that I’m headed in the right direction.



Carissa Sarreal

Sommelier turned Software Developer