Unable to grok programming after years of enthusiastic study; lost


Long and pessimistic and disorganized. Sorry. Man am I glad I found this site, I’ve needed to get this off my chest for ages.

TLDR: Been trying to learn programming for three years, failing technical interviews, keep hitting walls, I study all the time and I still fucking suck even though I want to do this more than anything. I feel so lost.

Long version (edited to shorten somewhat):

I’m 31. I loved making websites as a teenager, but did completely unrelated work until at age 28 I decided to teach myself programming.

I figured it would be a little harder for me than most because I’d spent my whole life avoiding anything STEM like the plague — but despite my lifelong depression/cynicism, I believed that with enough enthusiasm and curiosity, I could do anything I wanted.

It was… rough. I mostly passed because I’m good at googling and had some helpful friends when I was on the verge of failing.

Anyhoo, as the gap between my cohort and me widens, it’s getting hard to avoid the fact that even though I code (for fun! really!) almost every day, I am inexplicably a very weak programmer by junior dev standards. I am failing junior dev interviews/challenges right and left and frankly I’m afraid to burn bridges with any more companies.

I desperately want to learn to code; I would be very happy to be a serious web dev. I love those increasingly rare hits of excitement when something works or does something neat or the code is proper.

The fact that I’m the same age as many CTOs is not helping my ego.

Anyway, not sure why I’m posting this. Just so frustrated that I’m working so hard and still can’t write code that doesn’t get a “…We’ll contact you in the future, maybe.”


I also came into programming later than some (I’m 34 now and started about at 28). I often feel the same way, that there are people my age who are really advanced compared to me. Heck, there are people younger than me who are doing much more senior jobs. It’s really, really easy to fall into comparisons, especially in this field.

Have you tried going to meetups or becoming part of a community of coders? I wonder if you would benefit from mentorship–the kind of thing you would get in school or from a senior developer. That was the thing that really made the difference for me–having someone to look over my code and see the really basic errors I couldn’t see. Once I saw them, I couldn’t UNsee them, either. So it was a good learning tool for me.

I also learned about imposter syndrome and now keep a journal of wins I have, whether they were big or small–just to counteract the constant stream of negative self-talk.

I believe in you!