Having been involved in technology for many years now I’ve always regretted not learning to code. It is something I have always meant to do but never got around to. Well, that’s what I told myself, but the truth is I have been avoiding it. Don’t get me wrong I think software development and coding in general is an incredible skill to have perhaps one of the most important today. What I didn’t fully realize is I avoided coding because deep down I didn’t think I could do it. There was a deep-seated sense that it’s just too hard and only a certain kind of person can code and that isn’t me.
Like many people during the pandemic, I have experienced a significant loss of income and business, so I made the decision to use this time to up level my skills. I decided to try coding again, but this time look at it from a psychological point of view (I have an MA in psychology). In doing some self-reflection and talking to more experienced developers I could see that my underlying beliefs and attitude about myself were what was really stopping me rather than the technical challenge. The idea that coding is hard, that only a special kind of person can be a programmer, that there is no way someone like me can possibly understand this stuff! The thing is these are just ideas, and they are a major obstacle if you want to learn to code or anything else for that matter.
These underlying beliefs are insidious. The operate under the surface coloring one’s entire experience of coding. These beliefs make me feel anxious when I need to solve a coding problem and depressed when I can’t. Endless frustration, no wonder I can’t make it in this field. If I constantly doubt myself, feel anxiety on one hand and depression on the other and keep feeling like a failure I’ve already failed before I begin. There has been a lot of discussion in the field about “Imposter Syndrome” and I think it is these very beliefs and reactions that underly it.
I’ve been into coding again for the last few weeks and I’m happy to say it’s going much better. The reason is that I have uncovered and examined my limiting beliefs and reactions and changed the way I approach coding. I no longer see it as difficult but it’s not easy either. It is neither. It is what you make of it. I think it’s important to know what you want to create because coding is after all about making things. If you have something to build that you are passionate about you will have the reason and motivation to learn to code. What is equally important is not to judge yourself as a developer or to judge a programming language as difficult. Just focus on what you need to learn to build the project you are passionate about and be in the moment with it. Being in the moment means just focus on one step at a time and learn what is in front of you thoroughly without worrying about future challenges.
I am having a much easier time now without my mind dragging me down every step of the way. So, I just want to encourage you if you truly want to learn coding you can. But you may need to investigate yourself and be honest about what is blocking you and ask for help to get past it if necessary. If you are willing to make changes and adjustments to yourself and your learning process you just might be surprised at how much different you experience can be.