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!

1 Like

I´m in a very similar case as you . I have tried to make good software , but the truth is that after 3 and a half years in a not software company doing different stuff , I have almost accomplish nothing related to coding . Sometimes is not about coding but it is about the things you code . Motivation can do miracles , if you are truly convinced into developing something great for whatever meaning I think you will find ways to improve your coding like a masterpiece of art .
Look at something you are convinced you can code and focus on it . Save some money and give yourself a time to code whatever you want without the pressure of the world .

All these out-loud thoughts feel very familiar to me, which comes and goes really, and now it comes :slight_smile:

A few remarks:

  1. Why you are not writing code that keeps you going is the central issue to work on.
    • You recognizing that you need to update your knowledge is the only thing that matters imho.
    • If you figured it out when you were 15, you can trust that you have that very special skill of real problem solving, not cookie-cutter logic droned out in lecture format.
  2. How to get paid for it is another issue.
    • Just because they are de facto junior questions is not an indication that you are not qualified — in fact those companies likely hire the best imposters man can make :wink:
    • So forget others, but if you are comparing, you need to be fair, because are those pay and titles actually directly related to them writing good code.
  3. How to get peer-advise that actually works for you only works if your advise comes from people that share the same values and have proven it by subscribing to conventions that do not tic you otherwise.
    • Venting here works.

I think that going beyond typing, like a regular online meeting that is accessible to people like us can be the step forward (ie at least for me meetup was disastrous).