I Never Thought I Would Become A Programmer One Day

Growing up I was just a regular boy. I was never good at science or maths. I like to break things apart, but I wont call myself a tech nerd. So how did a regular guy like me turn into a programmer, coding things from scratch?

Now I can write these kinds of code all the time, without having to look it up

Let's be honest here, programming is not that easy. It takes discipline and repeated effort to code something on your own, build a thing which actually works. I never thought someday I would turn into a web developer and actually code in this weird language.

Please note: I am using the words “coding”, “development”, and “programming” interchangeably in this article, although they all have very different meanings. But you get the point!

When I get the chance to talk to people who are new to code, it reminds me how it felt when I was just starting out.

Some time ago, I met this guy at a conference. It was not a developer conference, it was more like a marketing one. While talking with him, he learned about my web development work and how I became a self taught web developer.

Knowing that, he expressed to me that he can never ever learn to code:

You know Tamal bro, I can never learn how to code. I just don't get it!

So instead of comforting him by saying how everyone can code, how easy it is and all that, I told him:

“You are right, you won't get it. I was just like you many years ago when I just couldn't understand all the code.”

“HTML code looked like Chinese text to me.”

“All I did was just copy and paste bunch of codes and put it all together.”

“But as I built many websites, I slowly started to get it.”

Hearing my words gave him comfort, and I think after that day he will see programming in a different light.

When I got started into building websites, I came across all the free resources like blogs, tutorials and W3Schools. But I didn't even had the skill to read and learn from the documentation.

For me it took a while to condition myself into a programming mindset to finally understand how to code things.

It didn’t happen magically just by watching a few tutorial videos or completing a course. The real journey was different. To help you track how I got so far, here is a quick highlight of my learning over the years:

  • Early days: I used website builders and MS FrontPage to build websites. Used Flash to create interfaces.
  • Blogger/blogspot days: Copy pasted code from various places to design sites.
  • WordPress days: Used little HTML & PHP code to change various design elements. Once again, I copy pasted from the web.
  • Thesis theme days: I used the Thesis Theme to build designs. Learned little CSS to customize the websites but most of it was copy-pasta.
  • Codecademy: Took my first formal programming lesson with the Hour of Code. Took formal lessons on HTML, CSS, JavaScript, JQuery and PHP from Codecademy. Built my first “Thing” with JS.
  • WordPress themes: Built my first WordPress theme and got it approved to the theme directory. This is when I started to call myself a real web developer.
  • Modern times: I made my mind to pursue a career in web development/programming. I am learning how to build web applications with Node.js and JavaScript.

As you can see, I spent a long time just copy and pasting bunch of code from the internet.

Taking formal courses gave me a bird eye view over the subject but it did not instantly turned me into a pro. It took repeated effort and practice to master various things.

Now I see my learning curve is getting shorter. I am learning new technology faster as I practice more.

So if there is anything you can take from my story: everyone learns differently. If you want to do this kind of thing, give it a shot. If you really love to program, you will learn it eventually (no matter how long it takes).