(• Reading Time: 5 minutes •)
The horrible feeling that you suck
“I am terrible when it comes to programming. I get some of the syntax but when it comes to solving problems I freeze. No idea where to start. Then I look up the answers and don't even understand what I'm looking at. How did they even come up with the solution? Eventually I may understand the answer but when I move to a new problem and I realize I suck all over again.”
I know the feeling.
I see it many times on programming forums.
And it's common among new developers. To be honest, even developers who've been at it for years still get this feeling. Not at the level of a newbie but it's still there. I know I did. Years back, when I started learning data structures and algorithms I felt like this.
The good news is that it'll get better.
The bad news? You don't exactly know when.
How to fix this issue with programming
There's no single technique, but if I had to choose one it's have consistency.
If you ignore everything else and follow this, you'll make significant progres.. Beyond consistency, here are more practical steps to follow:
Adjust your expectations
Follow stories of other developers who made it
It's not that you're not trying. Maybe you're doing a lot but every once in a while you might need inspiring developer stories to motivate you to keep going. Read these stories and remind yourself that if they can do it, you too can.
Surrround yourself with other beginner developers
When you see other people learning and struggling just like you, it can help reduce the self-induced pressure that you're not doing well enough. For example, join people on freeCodeCamp forums or Reddit learn programming community.
Find an accountability buddy for your programming journey
Instead of doing it solo, you can find someone else that can help you commit to consistency. Research in Behavioral Psychology has shown that having a friend that keeps you honest and true to yourself can transform your life.
Switch your approach to a more efficient to learn
Many new beginners go about learning to code the wrong way. And when you ask others who've been in the field for so long, they tell you:
“Just keep coding.”
But like going to the gym, you can go there everyday for 6 months and still see little or no results. Because you're not doing it right.
Same thing happens with coding.
- Better to start with web programming or python as your introduction to the world of programming.
- Than to jump into C or C++. In fact, I don't recommend you start with C++ as an absolute beginner.
Even after you settled on a language, you can follow tutorials, watch videos, copy-paste code and months later feel like an absolute beginner because you've not learned a more efficient way to learn to code.
Sometimes, you can't escape feeling that you suck at programming when you're completely new to it.
But you don't have to give up and walk away.
Feeling discouraged happens and will continue to happen. But if you commit yourself and follow these practical steps outlined here you'll be on your way to mastery sooner than you expect.
Thanks for reading
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Heads Up - I love research so I tend to back my advice and approach with concepts from Behavioral Psychology and Neuroscience.