The Long Road


More than occasionally, I get asked, “How can I learn programming as a beginner?” I have many thoughts on this, and here is just one of them…

The Long Road

When I think about my own path, I’ve been learning programming for a very long time. Experience has shown me that I’ll be learning programming today, tomorrow, and again next week.

So ask yourself why you want to learn to program. Because you may be doing it for the rest of your career, and you will think many times throughout, “why did I choose this?!”

Today’s electronic devices are mostly programmed by people who started with the same thought as you are having, and they have taken a wide array of paths. Take comfort in that. In knowing that there is no “one true path.”

Learn something, every day. Write code. Throw it out. Rinse, lather, repeat. Find joy in that cycle. Toss your proudest moments up on Github to show others, and to remember for yourself. Also remember that next week, they may not seem so brilliant, but they are important. They are you in your past, being the best you that you knew how to be in that moment. Be kind to past you. Learn from past you.

You don’t need to take a course, you don’t need to obtain a certificate or degree, or jump from bootcamp to bootcamp, though those are options that might focus you. You can do this in your evenings and on weekends while you eek out a living elsewise. Decide for yourself why you are choosing this, so that you can answer future you’s inevitable question.

George Leonard in The Way of Aikido wrote about the Obsessive, the person so eager to learn that it actually got in the way of their journey. “How long will it take me to master aikido?” To which Leonard says there is only one answer, “How long do you expect to live?”

If you can stay it out, if you find that you enjoy it more than simply being able to do it, know that the world needs you.


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