Inadequacy and no creativity

Hi, I feel so inadequate, im in my first year of university (UK), I have been trying to program for 2 years before uni, but i made the decision to become a java developer, im not too bad at it, I understand OOP, threads, JDBC - trying to learn J2EE and other Java core API’s but I feel like everything i’ve learnt doesnt matter because all I read is books and watch video tutorials and I practise the same things over and over again but I dont feel like thats good enough for real junior dev jobs or at all to increase my skill. I enjoy reading code and learning it on tutorials and writing it out at the same time to understand the concept but I cant program without a real objective e.g. programs my uni asks me to do for my assignments, im not sure if you (viewer) get what I mean. Like if you work professionally, your boss gives you a task, I could do that with my boss asking me to do a task, but if I were to try and do something in my spare time I couldnt do anything except for learning more and practising stuff I already know.

im scared to fail in university especially at programming even though im not bad at it, im so desparate to become a software engineer/java developer, Im trying to learn so many other things (unit testing, apache maven, git, android dev, xml, javascript) so that i can meet what employers want when jobs are advertised.

all this trying to be this and that developer is so tiresome, im getting depressed from university because i’ve probably got 1 teacher there out of a few who is literally helping me, he has become a role model and I dont want him to think I dont know how to do this and that and look pathetic, he even offered me a place in a programming competition but im scared I may not be good enough against other teams or my team members.

I feel like I am a waste of time when I speak to my tutors at uni, I know they would rather do they’re own stuff than bother with me or pretend to have some care to look good for themselves and not help.

the course at my uni is good but the people, I havent made a friend at all, I already fit into that anti-social programmer type.

Im getting really worn down from exceptions when programming, I have to program a game report generator and I cant manage to catch exceptions and the instant terminations. I got the program working if i dont make an error but this is where im getting tired and demotivated because of errors and trying to patch them up.

My depression came from other personal issues, but this career choice adds to it with the pressure of trying to know your stuff. I really want to be a java developer, Ill still keep doing the same stuff and learning new technologies just I find it hard with what I said above.

Thanks if you can help or suggest or even relate to me.

It sounds like above all else you should see a therapist or psychiatrist first; it sounds like your depression is taking its toll on you. Take it from someone dealing with anxiety disorders and mild depression that is triggered by my anxiety attacks; you don’t realize how bad these things are until you begin to unravel yourself with the guidance of a therapist or psychiatrist.

But here’s my anecdote. I felt like I didn’t know anything about programming after 4 years of Uni; it sounds like you feel you have a good grasp and could do well in a work environment with being assigned tasks. You’re already ahead of me in that regard (I had zero confidence), and I managed to find a job so there’s no reason you wont either. It also sounds like you have a legitimate interest in Java as well, which is always good in interviews and will keep you going in the long run.

With regards to assignments, have you tried looking through online courses for your specific language? Some of those courses have projects as part of the teaching material that you can then add to your resume.

I had severe spiralling depression (if thats a thing) before university and college, a time where I couldnt even live properly, I woke up with my soul trascending everyday to some abyss, I truly had nothing to live for, I managed to deal with that depression by myself; got better too and I get do some repercussions of it now and again but I struggle to let anyone in too if I were to talk to a therapist, Im scared to let people know about me… like a closed book - sadly in the UK (I dont know where you are from) but mental health is viewed really negative here, a lot of people view it as a severe sickness and people feel like its an airborne disease and aren’t really supportive but I think they just can’t understand it unless they went through it.

Yeah I love Java, trying to learn it as much as possible so im extremely competent enough for industry.

I’ve learned through a lot of online courses, I havent seen any projects except little solutions they make you try apart of the course (e.g. make a servlet and output some data after entering details from a form etc.)

I think the assignment part I mentioned was going over my head a little and I needed to think about it properly and look at java docs and other sources to find the solution to my problem.

Thank you for replying, I was looking at my post several times today to see if anyone replied, means a lot.

I’m from the States (California) but I think mental health is also viewed in a bit of a negative light here; its very taboo (and here, also expensive to see good therapists and/or psychiatrists). But I’ve found that the few people I have opened up to either had similar issues or were very understanding.

I had depression and some anxiety growing up during high school, I never saw a mental health professional for it because I was scared people would think I was nuts, and kinda just tucked it under the rug and thought I “managed to deal with it”. Thought I was doing well, didn’t have any depression or anxiety attacks in college and well…now here I am, 10 years later from when I first had these problems and back at them again. Now I am on the long journey of fixing these issues.

It’s great that you love Java. Honestly I even envy you a little. I don’t really “love” any of the technologies at work, I’m just indifferent.

Hmm perhaps it’s different for Java; I know a lot of web developer tutorials have you creating something that you can then add to your resume. Maybe someone else can chime in on other courses or ideas.

No worries, I have found discussion of these issues to be very therapeutic for myself and others.

Wow, I thought mental health was more understandable in the states; people I opened up with… well probably just my parents but my dad was too narrow minded (still is) he just couldn’t get the idea of depression or mental health and thought that I was insane - to be honest i felt insane too from everything, but my mum was better with me and helping me out.

I normally try to think of root causes to problems like we do with programming, you could try and remember where your problems came from originally and solve it basically; re-programming yourself to fix your bugs, or you could possibly tackle certain things that bother you one at a time, it could help you shorten the journey to fixing it.

Is there any technology you like to use? You could concentrate on that more?

Yeah, Im glad I found this site, its helpful and the good thing is everyone is on the same boat trying to help each out. (better than other forums)

Yeah just know that he’s wrong and you’re obviously not crazy. There’s a whole site dedicated to our problems after all.

Yeah I have been approaching therapy logically, the problem is my anxiety attacks are anything but logical and in those moments facts and logic fly out the window. It’s also been hard because as I scratch the surface I am finding more and more deep rooted problems. It’s like digging under a bush and finding the roots of an oak.

I do find front end technologies interesting. Before all this I was studying that stuff and making small applications. But that’s screeched to a halt with all this and I’ve just been studying stuff for work in an attempt to calm my anxiety. It sort’ve helps.

I can relate to what you wrote, especially the lack-of-creativity part and learning just to cover some topic for the future job is very familiar. Sometimes I feel like this lack of creativity tries to make me face the fact that it’s not my field (thus I can’t contribute anything substantial) but that might as well be my own prejudice. One suggestion I can give you is don’t become obsessive with Java or any other technology for that matter or you will face a burnout sooner or later.

I recommend you take a look at this book:

I’ve been reading it during the holiday break. It’s very easy to understand and it’s not the usual self-help mumbo jumbo.

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Thanks for the link. I’ll have to take a look sometime.

FYI, I have been using these books which I have found helpful:

The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Anxiety Disorders

@MoNazir, From what I’ve read about you, you don’t need to worry about your professional career. You are already doing things that many professional developers don’t do. Practice!

It sounds like, your programming anxiety is from a lack of imagination, rather than incompetence. Which is to say, you can code, you can understand how to learn new coding techniques, but you don’t know what to do with those skills.

In order to gain inspiration, I would advise you to attempt to solve an already solved problem. Attempt to rebuild Amazon, or Google, or Twitter, or Facebook. You probably won’t be able to recreate them precisely as these sites have thousands of engineers working on them, but you will gain insight into how their magic works!

That will give you a huge leg up when going into interviews, because you will have built something you can be proud of.

@MoNazir As far as the depression goes. I would say seek professional help. I too suffer from depression, I have for years. These days I don’t have it as much, but there are still days when the chemical reactions in my brain overwhelm my techniques for coping.

But here’s how I typically deal with depression:

  1. Having non social hobbies (That do not involve programming). It’s important to be able to have a good list of things to do when the depression is at it’s “strongest” to get your mind out of the infinite negative loop. I play video games for solo activity, but not too long. I read books but not too long (fictional - the goal is to take a break from reality).
  2. Having social hobbies. I taught myself poker online, then asked around until I got invited to a game. I always play for small amounts (e.g. $10 buy in) and this gets me around other people. Remember you goal is not to win the game (which is fun) but to talk and “chew” the fat around other people. Even if you don’t like talking, it’s great to hear other people banter back and forth. And poker is a great cover for the introvert, because people assume you arn’t talking because you are concentrating on keeping a good poker face! At first, i didn’t say much, but over time I got used to the environment and it became fun.
  3. Exercise while listening to music. Exercise is boring, but to a good tune, it can become like an action sequence in your favorite movie. Certain songs make me want to push myself much father than I would normally go. And exercise also has the added benefit of allowing you to physically work out the issues you are going through. Many times when I finish a good workout, the problems that were humongous don’t seem as big. The sky seems brighter. My body more energized! Don’t like running? Then walk. Don’t like walking, then lift weights. Don’t like lifting weights, then jump up an down. Don’t like working out solo? Take a biking class. Don’t like biking? Go hiking. There are many many ways to exercise, don’t excuse your way out of them.

I hope this helps.

Best of luck.

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@ayrazx, I think I already faced a burnout, sort of considering going into back end development for websites than software engineering.

anybody here can tell me what its like to be a web developer?

@skuld (1st reply) Yeah my problem is I just don’t practice as often as I should and related to me saying im burning out, i’ve had a look at web technologies and I can already imagine things i’d like to do, I made a fancy log in page with sandy background and a sandy effect not the best but it can be improved but I started to practise, I also followed a tutorial on making a drop down navigation bar, and trying to understand how it works, but it leads me to think maybe web apps and we development is better way for me to go.

@skuld (2nd reply) My depression has calmed for a bit but I think its the same with anyone; few days later the chemicals come back and you may have another episode depending on what you are suffering from. I normally play games maybe a bit too long and i normally read books about programming (novels just do it for me, more interested in books that give me knowledge if you what I mean e.g. physics).

Im too introverted to talk to people, I always get the feeling that people dont really care what you say and really aren’t interested in me, so I don’t say anything and im a closed book (don’t let anyone in either)

I’m going to start exercising soon anyway, trying to get into a routine of dieting etc.

thanks for your replies (everyone).