So, you’re struggling with computer programming? I want to start by saying that you’re not alone! Struggling with computer programming is not only common, it’s the norm. Programming is hard and it takes a lot of practice to get good at it!
Maybe you are in a first-year programming course or are trying to teach yourself how to code and feel lost or unconfident. Below I want to outline two really important things that you need to realize if you want to be a programmer.
These are two things that I learned from my years of programming and watching others who both succeeded and failed along the way. I want to share it here on thecodebytes.com so you can better understand your situation and how you can continue, or not continue, your programming career.
So without further ado, let’s jump right into it.
Question #1: Do You Actually Enjoy Coding?
Take a minute here and really as yourself. Do I like coding/programming?
If the answer is no, or even a maybe, you have some re-evaluating to do. Why are you actually heading down your current path to become a programmer? Do you just want to make money? Is someone in your life pushing you to become a programmer?
If you aren’t becoming a programmer because you really enjoy coding, it’s no wonder you’re struggling with programming! If you have to fight yourself just to put the bare minimum in to get by, you’re never going to be a great programmer.
Now that doesn’t mean you need to enjoy every second of every day you spend programming. It is very common to get burnt out and want to take a few days or even a few weeks off of programming.
However, if you never feel that urge to get back into it and continue creating with code, you probably are not going to make it far in your career. Even if you do get a job, you probably are not going to like it very much. If that’s the case, why put so much effort into getting that job?
If you can’t envision yourself spending 8 and sometimes up to 13 hours a day sitting at a computer solving small problems, you are doing yourself a huge disservice by continuing to half-heartedly learn to code. I personally love the creative freedom coding brings and find more joy than I do frustration in working with code. Especially once I get the hang of a specific language or framework. If you can’t see that same enjoyment in the future once you learn to code, it probably isn’t the path you want to go down. At least it’s not the path you want to go down right now.
My Personal Experience Dropping Out
This may be surprising to hear, but I actually dropped out of university for computer science in my second semester of my first year. I hated what I was studying and constantly felt inferior to the other students who were way better programmers than me. I thought that I wasn’t cut out for the field. Not to mention how everyone would tell me how smart I must be to be a computer science major. Which honestly just gave me more imposter syndrome. Especially because I was really struggling with computer programming at the time.
Ultimately, although my grades were good, I didn’t like what I was studying and hated putting the minimal amount of work in just to get by at the last minute.
I am actually really glad about this. Dropping out allowed me to pick up where I left off a few years later and teach myself the topics I found most interesting. Which in turn made me fall in love with programming and brought me to where I am today.
Long story short, if you don’t love programming, stop forcing yourself to do it.
Also, a quick word of advice if you’re still in high school, learn how to code before you get to college or university! You’ll thank yourself later.
Question #2: Are You Early In Your Career?
Even if you really enjoy coding, it will take you a while to get good or even decent at it. I remember consistently feeling inadequate at my skill level despite loving to code. Everyday I would study and practice until I literally couldn’t think anymore. I neglected many other healthy habits such as eating right and exercising which really pushed myself into a negative headspace. I felt like I would never learn how to code and that coding was really just for the ‘smart kids’. Pretty much every day I doubted myself and you might be doing the same.
So, what’s the answer? Just keep pushing through the self-doubt.
If you can see a real career and happiness as a by-product of learning how to code, you need to keep pushing until you feel confident in your abilities. I promise one day it will all be worth it to wake up every day and do what you love for work.
Few people find their calling in life or feel satisfied with their job. I always try to remind myself how lucky I am that I found coding and that by continuing to push myself all that time I had self-doubt was worth it.
The more I coded, the better I felt and the more fun I had. It still took a very long time but one day I looked back and actually realized I knew a lot more than I thought I did. If you continue to push yourself everyday to get better, you will too.
However, please do not do what I did and actually take care of yourself while you are learning how to code. Learning how to code is a marathon, not a race. If you neglect to exercise and eat right, the process is just going to be a hell of a lot harder!
So hopefully these two questions have really helped you understand why you are probably struggling with programming or coding. Ultimately, if you are not happy while you’re coding, you are going to struggle with your career forever. Even if you get good enough to be employable, programming is a mentally taxing and stressful activity. If you don’t enjoy the perks of programming, you certainly are not going to enjoy the drawbacks.
In addition, you need to understand that coding takes time. You might one day become the greatest programmer in the world. In order to do that, it is going to take a lot of time and hard work. If you don’t put that time in, you are going to continue struggling with computer programming forever.
That’s about it! If you’re new to development, check out my free material to becoming a web developer. It’s a good place to get started.
As always, happy coding!