I am not a good programmer and I can't help it


I’ve experienced a lot of this. I couldn’t figure out direction very well in school and ended up changing majors a few times becuase nothing felt as though it was the one true thing that fit me. I was in school for 9 years before graduating. CS because it seemed like something a person could use in the exploration of a bunch of different disciplines and so I didn’t feel like I was cutting myself off.

I tried some therapy sessions while in school, and then a few after. They weren’t very useful. It took a manic episode brought on by antidepresents to land me in outpatient therapy for a few weeks to encounter a type of therapy that helped. for me it was cognitive behavioral therapy. that does not mean it is going to work for you, but you might want to try finding a therapist who practices that type versus what you’ve tried up until now. I haven’t stuck with any therapist. It’s not something I’m good at, but the intense weeks taught me a lot and have helped me limp along (the episode happened back in 2000). Sometimes I’m not limping. I guess I am saying this because I don’t want you to think that finding a therapist who helps somewhat will make life a lot easier. learning these things didn’t make life a breeze for me. But it helped.

anyway, I look at a lot of what you’ve written here and in this thread – you are expressing similar thoughts and have similar problems to what I’ve experienced. maybe it would help to identify the thoughts that are habits of thinking due to depression. that has helped me.

btw, being depressed is draining on your mind and body and you are doing good to have one job. A lot of things you want to accomplish to find yourself valuable are the equivalent of having 2 or 3 jobs. In my experience, it has helped to realize that I don’t have enough capability at the moment to hold down 2 or 3 jobs. it has also helped me to realize that I don’t expect other people to hold down 2 or 3 jobs and that maybe I have unresonable expectations for how much I should be able to accomplish.

Also btw, I wonder if you are knocking yourself a lot for using a language that is not perceived as exciting and modern as others. A lot of places use java. Twitter, google, amazon - they use java. They manage to do competent things despite having java in their technology stacks. You don’t have ot stick with java, but if you do, you are not an idiot for that choice.


If you would look at my CV you would find I haven’t written the most epic framework ever, but I write a lot open source in general and I am very passionated. Despite I feel that I haven’t that much clue as I would like, the people surrounding me look up and say: wow, guy, how can you do so much stuff?

I blog, write open source, I am even active in an open source org. I write technical articles for mags, give talks, review books and even write my own. Besides I care as a self employed for wife and kid and two horses.

People around me say I am extraordinary and sometimes think I must have found the “holy grail” or that I don’t need to think while programming.

Have I really managed to be extraordinary good?

Before a few years I was so “good” that my life felt like nonsense. I worked so hard that there wasn’t anything else I could do. People looked up; I looked down and thought what a clown I must be. I learned: when I work more than anybody else, I learn more and my colleagues think I am a super-hero. But on sunday when I am alone, it’s not worth a dime. I felt exhausted and half dead.

When I really felt bad I went into Zen and it taught me that there is absolutely no need to be “extraordinary” in any kind. In fact I really would love to have less hobbies or less passion. This is actually a problem: programmers with too much passion care too much on their code. There was a time when I was not able to accept improvements to my code because I simply felt I needed to be better than the other guy (I am now healthy).

When I would hire, I would recognize that you like your work (i assume that) and that you are not too passionated to reject improvements. I would prefer you in my team to this super-perfect guys who code 20 more hours after their full time job.

However I also see that many companies think different. They want to look at GitHub to see your coding style. Recruiting is difficult, looking at something makes it easy. Not having own open source projects is like not having a business card, but that doesn’t make you a bad programmer.
In fact it doesn’t tell anything about you, except maybe that you are having other interests than coding open source in your prime time. Honestly a lot of my open source colleagues are even paid for doing it.

I would like to show you some timeframe. When I started with exzessive working I was around 17. I haven’t got a real goal, so I started to organize medieval festivities. Later I promoted with creating websites, and so I went into coding. I was working very hard back then. Now after years and years of hard work I have got some reputation.

The funny thing is: lot of people don’t care. Some do, but most not. It took me all these years of trying to be excellent and only a few care.

My conclusion is: with all the things on my CV, my experiences and open source work I am not a better programmer than you. As long as you like what you do we are equal. Compared to you I have the benefit of being older and more experienced. Compared to me you don’t have the problem of “manic working” or being to opinionated around code. You call bad - but I think you are extraordinary at this.

It was proposed to start with open source as well. Then you go into the same hamsters wheel as I was and the outcome is uncertain. Maybe you should think a bit more about “being excellent is the rule”. This is honestly a wise observation which asks for critic. In example when we say “excellent” its most often a overworked guy who lives unhealthy and spends all his time in coding something. But maybe we should say “excellent” to a person who manages to live a real life and can enjoy his job. This definitely asks for a blog post.

The irony of it is that as a tech blogger you would build up reputation as well. But well, as long as you have fun doing it, it would be ok.


30yr old dev here.

A few years ago I was a very shity developer, barely even a scripter… but I sat down with something that I knew I could immediately apply to what I do.

Build a little PHP based CMS.

Why PHP? Why a CMS?

Well PHP is arguably the easiest language to get started with, probably the most documented language on the interwebs and you can write some really powerful web apps with it, and a CMS just made sense. I didn’t like the bulk of wordpress or how Drupal and Joomla felt more like a MVC.

So, I bought some PHP books, the “Visual Quick Pro” guide sticks out in my mind. And I got the Lynda.com PHP videos, both the basic and advanced were great.

I particularly recommend programming videos for people who are depressed. No matter how depressed you are or how much you don’t want to study, you can flip on a video, and after a few months you’ll just have a lot of it memorized, like lines from a tv show.

I get in serious slumps and get occasional highs.

Most programmers can’t just run in over-drive at will all the time, they are Bi-Polar / Manic Depressive.

I’m on a lot of Medication, and I have to be very careful to keep it on schedule or I go directly back in the shitter.

However, even though I have a good job right now and feel like I’m doing well in it, I still look in the mirror and see a fat-fuck of a 30yr old who has never had a long-term girl friend, no real family, no real friends and I just don’t quite understand why I would even want to have a future.

It feels like an uphill battle, where the reward for climbing over one hill is a bigger hill.

I mostly wakeup in the morning and go to work because I feel obligated to not let my little studio down. It’s only a 3-4 man team most of the time and they have put a lot of training into me.

Still, I’m in that position where I knew I had to either go get some PHP books, download some PHP videos or just fucking end it.

The videos and books seemed easier… and now that I’m a “Real” programer ( I do Objective C and Python these days, so yes I am a real programer :stuck_out_tongue: ) I do feel better about my self as a whole.

I don’t feel like where I am in my life is due to some sort of deficiency of effort on my part, but rather bad genetics and bad upbringing.

What keeps me going most is the memory of feeling happy. I don’t remember what it was like to be happy exactly, but I remember that I was happy at one point and that if I at least stick around and keep the wheels turning, I think I can be happy again someday.

If not, nothing of value as lost.


I know this postings are pretty old, meh. Internet is timeless! I searched for my feelings in google with :"dont feel like good programmer"

I read a few posts of this thread and I feel a bit better now. I know that I am not alone. I like programming too and to achieve things and I am proud of it. I Never really finished something or had a big project. I am new to this society as well. 2 years of xp at all (as programmer) and I feel like I will never be good because I am 31 yrs old and colleagues and friends are much more intelligent in problem solving and their design patterns make me feel I am dumb. But I know there is light at the end of this tube. I saw a video on youtube where a programmer said that you will be in a phase and fight the ?dip? That programmer fought it and had all the doubts. That phase can endure a long time. You will never be able to earn the benefits if you give up. I think I will not give up. I will go on and fight. But still, there are so many doubts :frowning:


I’m ashamed to call myself a programmer. Due to family pressure i had to choose computer science for undergrad. THEY WANTED A FUCKING ENGINEER and I’M A FUCKING LOSER now. I can’t code. I hate coding. It’s not for me. I’m 20 and i’ve already spent two years on this course and i feel like there’s no space for me in this world as i’m not gonna get any job + won’t fit into the society after graduation. I fucking hate my life. My worst mistake was to choose programming >_<


If I were you I’d seek and pursue what I like, I’d stand against my family and explain to them that it’s not the stone age anymore.

It’s your life, fight for it.


Dude i have totally been. But you have to realize that every person has there own way of getting to their destination. Just keep doing what your doing.