A Small Validation

May 13, 2021


Rags to Rayman

Last time, I discussed how difficult it can be to structure self-learning. I also mentioned that I was looking at UPenn's pseudo-CS masters program (the MCIT) as one solution to that problem. A few days ago, I was accepted into that program. So, that was nice. Pats self on the back.

To be sure, the program is a great opportunity. Among other things, the program should provide me with some very discrete, clear goals to aim for. I will also have the chance to connect with a diverse group of people from all over the country. And the program, like an MBA, acts as an inflection point in the minds of employers - it sends a clear signal that I'm changing careers. (This is really starting to sound like my personal statement.) Not to mention, it doesn't hurt to have the UPenn name on my bio.

But the acceptance hasn't changed my day-to-day much. The program does not start until the end of August, which is a lifetime away. In the meantime, I am still chug, chug, chugging along. I have a stack of books a mile high that gives me ugly looks when I ignore it. My project backlog is so long that it ended up in my neighbor's pool last week. I am trying to involve myself in the game jam scene, which sounds like a lot of fun (I'll just leave it at that). And I am also attempting to maintain a semi-regular publication schedule of tutorials (it really is the blind leading the blind out here). As you can see, my plate is overflowing, and I imagine it will be for the foreseeable future.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, this acceptance is profoundly meaningful. The day that I quit law, I knew it was the right choice for me. But every day after that, before I have chomped on a bagel or brushed my teeth or even rolled out of bed, I begin with a mental exercise. The goal of that exercise is to steel myself for the day ahead. The world has continued to spin without me, and every third-party success story inspires a subconscious subversion: Maybe I would be better off doing something else. I have to remind myself that I chose this path, that it is what I want, and that I can do it. Most days, this engine runs on glimpses of the future and sweet nothings.

Against this backdrop, acceptance into the MCIT program is a timely pick-me-up. It is a teeny, tiny, humble nod from the world that perhaps my goal of becoming a software developer is less of a moonshot and more of a practical undertaking. It is one more voice added to the morning chorus, reminding me that I can do it. It is a small validation of great consequence, and I am thoroughly pleased to have it.

© 2021 Mustafa Moiz.