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Programming… its really not that scary

It was only until recently that, when taking a step back from what I have been working on, I realised how dramatically my attitude towards programming has changed.

Four years ago I started out on a journey that transformed my anxieties about programming, something that now forms an integral part of my career choice. At that time, programming was something I knew a bit about, computers were something I knew a lot about. But I still had a lot of apprehension about whether I could gain an appreciation and detailed understanding of both.

Through a period of (at times) excellent academic tuition,  invaluable industry experience and sheer hard work, my worries about tackling technical problems slowly eroded, and my confidence in my ability has soared and I’m not ashamed to say it!

Now there’s phrases there like ‘academia’ and ‘hard work’ that people have extremely varied perceptions about. Probably some of what you think about those things is true, but a lot of it probably isn’t. By ‘hard work’ I don’t mean work that is really difficult to do, I mean a large volume of work that requires perseverance. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say… if you’re going to be a programmer, the number one attribute that can assist you is not intelligence, but perseverance. I don’t have an extremely high IQ, I don’t consider myself naturally academic, and I will never solve any of big problems facing humanity. However my academic achievements in terms the degree I am studying for, and practical achievements in terms of good quality software I have developed (and will continue to) can at the very least provide a factual basis for me to say, without fear of arrogance, I can program.

The more you practice, learn and progress the less impervious technical challenges will seem to you. This is incredibly liberating. If you’re anything like me this will mean the following changes will occur:

  • When you see a screen chock-full of code, you start to make sense of it by examining the structure instead of being frightened away at the first sight of it. Even if it’s written in a language you don’t know.
  • You’ll be much more inclined to dive straight in and alter it.
  • You start formatting things so that you can see more code on the screen at once, instead of leaving excessive amounts of white space
  • You’ll know when you need to step back from what you’re doing and make some notes and diagrams to better develop you’re ideas.
  • You’ll know at which point you should ask for help or the opinions of others (and where to go for the assistance depending on the scenario)

So my point really is in the title of this post. Am I selling programming short? I don’t think so because there’s many facets to it and I’m not saying its all easy and plain sailing. But when you’re told programming is not that scary enough times you really start to believe it, and for me that’s one become one of my main beliefs and as a result motivated me to learn so much in so little time.


  1. Kas says:

    Good article…reassuring!

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