What Self means to Us

Self is a concept that has confounded humankind since our beginnings. A concept that has become somewhat redefined by the tech industry — particularly by social media. What makes you you, and not someone else? What gives you that #{your_name}ness that sets you apart?

As the world grows ever more connected, it has become increasingly important to carve out your unique presence on the internet — and with the mediums for self-expression constantly evolving, so too has our concept of Self evolved.

We’ve reprogrammed ourselves to think of Self as being synonymous with identity, and led ourselves to believe that we must keep standing out in order to define who we are. With this as our goal, we have shifted our focus on what sets us apart as opposed to the commonalities beneath our idiosyncrasies.

All too often, we fail to tap into the deeper Self that we sometimes forget we have access to . The Self that is essentially our blueprint. The Self that ties us all together, and reminds us we are all just versions of each other doing the best we can under the circumstances we were given. Instead of seeing each other as competition on this quest for uniqueness, we can lean on our shared experience and learn from one another and grow stronger as a whole.

Take our cohort for example: We come from a somewhat diverse range of backgrounds of experiences, yet we were all only an instance method-call away (me.flatiron_school )from redefining ourselves as “fullstack developers”. And just like that, we are now part of group of individuals we may have never otherwise connected with.

Self in Programming

While we may not have had any say in the design of ourselves, we do have control over the tools we design and the way we use them. This duality of self has been conveniently incorporated for us in the Ruby language through defining Classes.

The Instance Self, like the individual, is responsible for knowing which distinct attributes differentiate it from all the other instances of a Class. It can run Instances methods (like me.apply_to_flatiron or me.learn_coding) to further set itself apart, but it will forever be tied to its blueprint, the Class. No matter how far the instance strays, there will still be internal logic linking it to its Class.

The Class Self, on the other hand, is responsible for containing the collective information for all Instances within its class. It can produce all of its instances with a single call of “.all”, or compare and contrast any individuals within that class to produce insights about the Class as a whole. This can be used to reveal trends, identify “sub-classes”, or even lend inspiration to other instances in the Class.


Instances are instances for a reason: They are distinct. They are a unique member of a Class. With this in mind, it is important for us to have our quirks. The spice of life is that we are all doing it a bit different. It is up to each individual to be responsible for themselves through the instance methods available to them, whether that be me.learn_a_skill or me.help_a_friend, to continue to flourish. However, we mustn’t lose sight of the blueprint that unifies us. The Class that gave us our way.

A diversity of instances does make for a strong Class; however, these instances must be able to continue to interact with one another in order to gain the insights needed for the Class to grow. Without the insights gained from the unity of instances, a Class affiliation hardly needs to exist at all. A stronger Class as a whole lends a larger breadth of insights that each instance can benefit from and continue to grow stronger, in turn making the Class even stronger.

While it will forever be important for individuals to stand out from each other, and an accomplished Instance is certainly an impressive one, it is also important to remember that we all come from a common Class. A truly accomplished Instance is one that is able to give back to its Class more than it took to begin with. So as we continue to forge our respective identities and set ourselves apart, we’d do well to keep in mind how much of ourselves really is thanks to our fellow Class instances. We may not run our .learn_coding methods in exactly the same ways, but we are only a .ask_for_help away from connecting to @@all.

Flatiron Software Engineering BootCamp Graduate