I'm Lula, and I am hoping to get back on track with graphic design and web development after about 100 years away from it.
When I was 11, I taught myself how to code. At 28, you can imagine things have changed. I started making hideous websites with flashing backgrounds and dancing hamsters, and using All of the Things. I remember my first site took over 20 minutes to load on dial up, and I'd send the links to my friends and promise them it was worth the way. "Just shower while it's loading. TRUST ME! It's awesome!"
But I taught myself more and more, learning from source code from websites that would not blind people and would not take the length of an episode of Friends to load. I'd experiment on private sites, twerking code and seeing what it did, until I learned what each line of code was there for. Around 2000, I also started to get into graphic design. By 2002, I was designing websites and graphics for money on the side, and I was pretty damn good at it. I won several site and graphic design awards over the years and even wrote tutorials and designed resources like brushes, textures, templates, and stylesheets to be shared on some of the major (mostly now defunct) design websites/magazines.
One thing keeping me motivated is the incredibly strong community - places like this - where people root each other on. That was NOT the case when I was learning. Remember every site with right clicking disabled so no one could view the source? Now people putting their code all over GitHub, blogging about it, and sitting around answering questions and helping people accomplish their goals, it's just refreshing and encouraging. Learning (or relearning) to code is hard enough as it is; feeling alone in the process would make it almost unbearable.