Demotivated newbie learner

I just need to share this with someone.

I started learning to code over the summer. I enjoyed it so much I decided to drop out of business school (which was starting this month) to instead become a web developer. I just didn’t want to spend 6 figures on an MBA and learn a little bit about EVERYTHING in business without becoming a master in anything. I’m in my 30s and a career changer from the helping sector. I’m also a follower of Cal Newport’s teachings to get really good at a skill that is marketable.

So that’s the background. I’m unemployed and learning full time. And I really want to be employed by next June at the latest. I also have money that would have gone to MBA which I decided to use to support a good learning experience for coding.

My issue is in the last week I have lost a lot of motivation and now I’m too scared to learn. Obviously this is increasing my depression. I also realise that being “productive” is a +ve for my self esteem and mood, so this isn’t good at all.

Here’s what I think went wrong:

  • I liked the idea of studying from a coworking space. It’s how I aced the GRE last year, it’s a way to meet people in my new city (I’m now living in the city I was supposed to do the MBA in) and psychologically there is something encouraging about going somewhere everyday just to study. The problem is that except two, every space I tried is noisy AF. I already paid for a 2 month membership and since 3 days ago I’ve refused to go there. I can’t concentrate, and I am pissed at having to wear headphones all day in general but to make matters worse it’s so noisy the headphones are useless. Paying the equivalent of USD400 a month to be aggravated makes me furious and sad. As a frugal person it already feels like an unreasonable luxury to pay for a desk to study. To not be able to use it makes me sad and I feel even more useless at the thought of paying for a more quiet space in September (in which case I have TWO desks paid for that month).
  • I was using a course that is highly rated and geared towards people who want to thoroughly master coding. It has sucked out all my motivation to learn. I spend the day reading their ebook about the command line and getting frustrated with the exercises because apparently the people who wrote the course are not Mac users and even though this is supposed to be for beginners they don’t explain a lot of things. I’m having to constantly google words like shell, bash, Unix, etc. I can’t finish a chapter googling everything. I feel dumb for not knowing stuff already. I’m bored and dread doing even just one 40 minute Pomodoro a day, much less the ideal 4 - 6 hours of studying. I also feel shame because the makers of this course often criticize people who learn things at a shallow level (eg. Through time-bound bootcamps) and they seem to be believe learning should be difficult not “fun”. Plus the course is 5 star rated every where so I feel like an anomaly.
  • I wanted to build websites. But this course frontloads back-end programming. I’m not going to get to front end for at least 6 months. I’m not going to be building a portfolio or seeing my learning translate into cool websites. It was never explained that software engineering =/= web development and even now that I know I’m in the wrong course, I’m afraid that I wont enjoy more web-dev focused courses.
  • I thought about attending a local bootcamp. The options here aren’t great. The “best” bootcamp I like but their alumni all look the same and use the same descriptions in their portfolios because they’re being mentored by the same career service. “I’m Anna and I love code so much! I am passionate about translating a client’s vision into clean modular code!! I’m so thankful I get to build cool things” . I fucking hate people who talk like this and can’t imagine having to be pushed to market myself in this way in order to get a job. Plus the bootcamp I think is way overpriced, probably because they’re no good local alternatives. No scholarships are offered.
  • I joined some Facebook groups for people in programming. There’s one group for women in tech generally (not just coders). Im finding it is a toxic wasteland for me as someone trying to break in. It’s kind of like if you were starting med school and planned to be a dermatologist and you joined a Facebook group for folks in medicine. And you keep seeing posts like “my head nurse is bullying me!” “I hate being a nurse!” " If you didn’t go to a top 10 med school, should you accept a low salary?"
  • I found a different course that I think meets my needs better. It’s still onlune. But it pairs students with a mentor. It’s web Dev focused and involves weekly deliverables w a good structure. It’s more expensive than my current course but cheaper than the local bootcamp. In short it feels like a “bargain” - which is how I like to feel when I spend money. This is very positive but again I’m scared that I have no motivation anymore.

Here’s what I’m doing to help me.

  • I’m in a mindfulness meditation group
  • I found a naturopath locally and will meet with them to discuss improving my energy levels
  • I’ve stopped the course. Even though I feel like the laziest person on earth for not doing anything this week. I just can’t do it.
  • I’ve applied to the mentored online course
  • I’m considering writing off what I paid for the cowork space and then paying for another one. OR going there in the evenings, from 5:30 - 9:30 pm.
  • I think I need to find a way to deal with harmful advice I get from people who don’t understand me. Such as , in the current.course, “you shouldn’t take any coding job!” or in general “why pay for a course when you can use Freecodecamp!” or my favourite “you don’t need to pay for a study space. You can learn a new field at home in your PJs next to your smart TV without interacting with anyone all day!”
  • I left the Tech Ladies group.
  • I’m sharing here :grimacing:

Thanks for reading. I know this was long.

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Programming without coding with the assistance of AI soon will be replaced with today’s inefficient way of making software. Until then go and do something more visual rather than cold, feelingless pure code. People are different, some enjoy pure code and some enjoy the more visual way of managing stuff like mind mapping way of doing things. I made many software and applications for desktop and mobile devices. What I found is after I started meditation my mind changed the way I couldn’t tolerate the way engineers approached the programming world. Before meditation, I think I was tolerating the pure code world. Everything is vague and needs hours of tracing and searching on the net or inside the libraries which you even don’t know every part of them and this adds up the unpleasant feeling of not knowing what’s going on and how to make it more efficient if I don’t know exactly what is the relationship between different parts of these millions of lines of code. Some people enjoy this puzzling world and they say positive things about it and have no idea about how making it more visual like the way we live in our normal daily life with objects around us. So I left programming even though I was good at it and people still enjoy my work and this made me quitting became harder. I’m pretty sure in future no-one could write code as efficient and fast as AI. Not very far in the future, in 10 or 20 years pretty much websites and applications all will change and coding will not be efficient. You could ask the AI to apply your specific required function to the software based on huge amount of information available in books, other applications and on the net. Role of the human being as a scientist will not fade away but it will become more like counseling than directly involving the brain cells with billions of lines of code which is created in a second or less with AI. So don’t feel frustrated and don’t think if you don’t enjoy coding that means you are not pushing it hard enough. That’s the fact that you have to enjoy what you are doing to live in joy when you do it. People have a different level of spiritual evolution and ability to understand the facts, some are OK by living for the money and some feel they are in prison. Just do what you enjoy the most. Do the thing you don’t feel you want to run away from it.
You could also work as a UI/UX designer which is needed everywhere. There is no code involved and your ideas of how an app or website should work and look would be appreciated by programmers who could hardly think of these things and they need someone with these abilities.
Meditation changes your mind and everyday you could think better and more logical so don’t get upset if one day you see most of the behaviors around you illogical and unpleasant.

I feel like your analysis + goals are realistic, depending on your financial + stability situation. Re: motivation - It sounds like you’re on your way as far as solutions that will work out better for you though.

It’s super important to not get burnt out this “early” on when coding still thrills you & you’re in that honeymoon phase. Maybe you could do one or two things that will reignite it or maybe just taking a breather would be helpful?

I want to take a moment to acknowledge how proactive you’re being even during a phase of demotivation. Motivation ebb and flows (for everyone) but it sounds like you will have a track or path in place to circle back towards when you harness that energy again.

Thanks again for sharing @Aaliyah537, I found your thought process (love a good list!) analyzing your pros + cons of the scenario to be really helpful as far as applying to some things happening on my own end.

Hi I really relate to your point about trying more “visual” code. I realised that was the element missing from the course I was doing (which I have now dropped!).

Thanks for this! I am feeling more hopeful since I wrote this, especially since I dropped the engineering-focused course. I want to give programming a chance, partly because I was so excited about it recently, but also because I have no other options currently :smile_cat:. So it’s really about finding the right tutorial and addressing the issues around energy. The naturopath put me on some supplements I hope will help.

It sounds like you’re on the right path and you tried some things which didn’t work for you, which happens to everyone. I think doing the new online course sounds like a great choice. You should learn what you’re interested in instead of learning what you think “everyone” knows. There are many different specializations and roles within tech and any of them can work for you! It can seem like an intimidating career but it’s not true that every dev knows all of the technologies out there. I’m the opposite of you and prefer “back end” coding much more and would dislike working on UIUX or web development, so I avoided those sorts of programs (I’m self-taught, though I do have university CS experience).

Also, I would advise not being so hard on yourself. You’re a beginner, so it’s not expected that you know all of the vocabulary already (shell, bash, Unix, etc.) As your knowledge increases you will become more confident. Good luck!


Thank you! I hope I make it. My new course starts Oct 8. I’m going to use the next week’s just to develop some healthy habits and get in a better space. I know there is a lot of potential in tech that only opens up if you know code or can work with coders. Getting started is just the hard part :blush:

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