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Brian Barbour
Brian Barbour

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How Flunking A Programming Class Deterred Me

Let's rewind to 2004. I was a junior in highschool. I took an Introduction to Programming course, and dove in eager to learn how it all works. You see, the year previous I had taken a Web Design course and learned the fundamentals of HTML and CSS.

I aced that course and loved it. I think that was the moment that my love for software development began, but that love would soon be handicapped.

You see, my Introduction to Programming course was on the C++ programming language.

C++ was hard.

There were kids in my class that excelled at it, and watching them code made me shrivel up on the inside. I got left behind and eventually flunked the class. At that time in my life, I was still learning how I learn. I hadn't mastered my ADD and mental health issues, such as depression. It wouldn't be years later, as an adult, that I would be ready to challenge myself again.

Looking back, I should have asked the teacher for their time to cover the subjects a little deeper and help me make sure I was getting it. I know she would have, she was a great instructor.

I didn't have the maturity enough for that. For me, I didn't learn it naturally and that meant it wasn't for me. I was ashamed, I felt inferior, and that feeling would stay with me for over a decade.

Failure with programming didn't discourage me from pursuing a career in computers. I continued learning, focusing on what I perceived as easier stuff like hardware, networking, and repair. It didn't deter me from making websites as a hobby either. I would create forums around my favorite hobbies, games, or shows using software like phpBB and Wordpress.

However, I always stopped at PHP and Javascript. I hit a wall and it was programming. I sought plugins for solutions, sometimes giving up if there wasn't one. Never did it cross my mind again that I could just write my own if I put enough time and effort in.

I had shackles around my ankles and wrists, I couldn't run at full speed.

I didn't get past this fear until November 2018.

What let me break through it?

A cleaner bill of mental health helped, a lot. Also, I think my curiosity eventually overwhelmed my fear. In that, I asked myself a single important question.

"What do I have to lose?"

Nothing. Worst case scenario, I would come out understanding computers a little better. That would help me with my career as a PC Technician, troubleshooting and diagnosing issues.

Thus, I sat down and started the Web Development path on Codecademy.

Ever since that day, I haven't stopped and will probably never will.

As a final note, I do plan on learning C++ down the road, just to get revenge against the sense of inferiority it instilled in me. For now though, I'm happy learning as much as I can about Javascript.

Top comments (2)

robustenigma profile image

Awesome perspective Brian!

Thanks for the inspiration, and I'm so glad you dove back in with both feet.

It can't be stated enough what a healthy mentality can do when it comes to learning, and growing, not only in a field of study, but life itself. I'm glad you were able to tackle that paradigm shift in stride.


lmolivera profile image
Lucas Olivera

I definitely relate to this. When I was 9 and bored of playing with pseudo programming languages (I had used a lot Scratch and wanted to create videogames with Game Maker) I tried to learn C++ on my own. I suppose you can guess what happened.

It wasn't until I was 15 that I tried again but this time in Java. I don't really know what happened, maybe I matured enough to understand that you can't expect to have natural talent with everything you try and that there is a process to learn everything in life.

I feel really happy for your perseverance.