Apps are due today, just going over this for the last time... any improvements?
Prompt: Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience that is important to you. What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud, and how does it relate to the person you are?
"Is this a joke? Did you really think people would like this?"
Reading those words was devastating. Excitement had cultivated within me when I pressed the submit button, but the color had drained from my face when I read reply after reply. Apparently I was a horrible programmer.
I had imagined that moment to be completely different. I had spent hours in front of the computer working on my modification, brainstorming improvements and changes in order to make it as functional as possible. I truly believed that people would enjoy the project I was working on.
The project was for Garry's Mod, a popular video game where programmers can 'mod', or modify, its game mechanics and submit them online for other people to critique and enjoy. I had discovered the game when I was 14 and the modification aspect of it sparked an interest in me, so I started to create one of my own despite my lack of programming ability. I didn't know the online community could be so harsh in its criticism.
As the responses rolled in I felt like crawling into a hole. I was extremely embarrassed. I poured my heart and soul into my project and within minutes all of my allusions were destroyed. Many people told me to give up; I was encouraged to delete my online account so I would cease to submit any more of my work.
I strongly considered following their advice in order to save face, but on a whim I tried to find any constructive criticism buried beneath the insults. I gritted my teeth and made the best effort to improve myself using the criticism I could find.
In the following months, I spent many nights researching various programming techniques online. I applied the concepts I learned in my new modifications. Over the course of time, my programming ability improved drastically and the tone of the commentary on my work changed. Instead of receiving ridicule, there was praise. Soon, hundreds, then thousands of people downloaded my modifications. After about a year, my big break arrived. One of my modifications was featured on the front page of the official Garry's Mod website. Currently, it is one of the top downloaded modifications of all time and is hosted on more than 100 game servers across the world.
Today, as I consider which one of my accomplishments would best reflect me in my college applications, I remember the programs I created as a freshman that I once thought were superb. Although it did discourage me initially, I am appreciative of the harsh criticism the Garry's Mod community gave me of my early work. It not only put me in my place but it also taught me that there is always room for improvement.
Now, when I proudly look at my finished iPhone app or my polished Java game I remember that same feeling of accomplishment I felt when I made my first script in Garry's Mod. I am reminded that I still have more to offer and I start on my next project.