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I started learning to code pretty late in my life at the age of 26, only a month before turning 27. What i did before to earn my bread and butter is content for another story.
I made my first steps on Codecademy’s HTML + CSS course, then soon switched to Java and eventually came to Android programming. What fascinated me about mobile development, was, that it is so easy to actually produce something “real”. Something people can use on their phones, even if it’s just yourself and your mom. And as opposed to computer software it didn’t feel like everything was already invented.
So i started to learn Android programming and if i had to summarize my experience in the first few months it would be
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy programming and i already did back then, but when you first start out it feels like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Every time you learn something, it seems to fork into countless other “somethings” to learn. It is like battling a hydra and every time you cut off a head, it grows 2 new ones. And since i still used an iPhone back then and not an Android phone, i didn’t even know what basic elements an Android app has. I didn’t know how the menus look, what Toast messages and Snackbars are or anything about Material Design.
Most things you consume in life are made really simple for you by other people. But when you want to be a software developer, there is no simple for you, sorry. You become the one that has to tackle complex stuff and make something simple out of it for OTHER people. You change roles. Most things you learn wont be explained in a short list of simple steps. It will be big blocks of text with links to more big blocks of text.
once you battled through that first overwhelming phase, you get some order into that big mess. Suddenly you start to understand things, you can read bigger and more complex code snippets as if it were text from a book. Where before was just chaos, you suddenly see patterns and logic and it feels amazing. You start to become a programmer and understand what before seemed to be just gibberish. You gain confidence and suddenly it doesn’t feel so overwhelming anymore.
The thing is, you have to go through that phase. There is no way around it, because programming is very complex. But if coding is your thing, you will still enjoy it most of the time. And you will enjoy it even more once you battled through that starting phase. This post is not meant to demotivate you. If anything it’s meant to show you, that it is completely normal to feel overwhelmed at the beginning. To even feel stupid because you dont’ get things that for others seem natural.
If you keep going you will become one of those people for who it seems natural.
A good beginner book like “The Big Nerd Ranch Guide” can make that process a bit easier.