Welcome to the first post in my new blog. Since this is about beginnings, I thought I’d write about what it’s like to be a white belt again. Yes. Me. I am a white belt again—in building websites. The site at which you are now looking was built by yours truly. What does this have to do with kids karate you ask? As it turns out, a lot.
A good webmaster could build this site in a few weeks. Me—it took over a year. Why? I now remember the frustrations of being a white belt again. I had to call the web hosting company countless times to have them walk me through something I did not understand. I cringed at their impatience, as I just couldn’t get it. Well, not all of them were impatient—most were quite good. When I called the help line it was potluck. Dozens of times I had to go to the website forums to get answers to questions I didn’t even know how to ask. I waited for replies that sometimes never came. I searched google to ask “Why is my website showing as a blank white page,” or “Why has my website crashed?”
And the language. There was HTML, CSS, Photoshop, W3 Validation, FTP, etc., etc. It might as well have been hieroglyphics. How do you get problems solved when you don’t know the language? Well, I had to learn. There were online tutorials, books, forums, and conversations with experts. It is amazing how many people want to help if you just ask for their advice. I now have great respect for people in this field; they must know so many things.
There were so many times I was tempted to throw in the towel. Hire someone to do it for me. But, like any white belt, I enjoy a challenge. Each time I encountered a problem, I found a way to solve it. It might have taken me a day, or even a week, I didn’t care. There was always a solution. Each time I found a solution my confidence grew. And guess what? I learned a lot.
When I walk through the class as we are practising a kata, I see the looks on the children’s faces. Utter frustration, the “I will never get this” look. I can now better relate to their feelings. I can now see what kind of Sensei they need. They need someone like that kind patient person on the web hosting help line that got me through a tough, frustrating time without making me feel like a complete idiot.
Let’s face it. In the website development world I am a nobody—a big zero. But I’m learning, and part of the joy of learning is exploring the unknown, overcoming the fear of failure, and reveling in our new knowledge. Learning new things is what keeps us young at heart. I will probably never be a black belt in building websites, but I am still learning and I will not give up.
What did I learn from all of this? I learned that everyone should become a white belt again just to feel what it’s like to be someone just starting out on their journey. More than anything, this experience has taught me about patience; with myself, as well as with others. And white belts; never be afraid to ask for help.