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Sloan's Inbox: Will I Ever Feel Like I Know This Stuff?

Hey y'all! Sloan, DEV Moderator and mascot. I'm back with another question submitted by a DEV community member. 🦥

For those unfamiliar with the series, this is another installment of Sloan's Inbox. You all send in your questions, I ask them on your behalf anonymously, and the community leaves comments to offer advice. Whether it's career development, office politics, industry trends, or improving technical skills, we cover all sorts of topics here. If you want to send in a question or talking point to be shared anonymously via Sloan, that'd be great; just scroll down to the bottom of the post for details on how.

Let's see what's up this week...

Today's question is:

I've been learning Python for a few months now and feel like I've learned just enough to understand how little I know. It's like I've reached the top of a mountain only to realize that there's more and more, taller mountains ahead of me. Is this a common feeling? Will I ever get to a point where I'm comfortable with this stuff or is this just what programming is like? 😅

Share your thoughts and let's help a fellow DEV member out! Remember to keep kind and stay classy. 💚

Want to submit a question for discussion or ask for advice? Visit Sloan's Inbox! You can choose to remain anonymous.

Top comments (7)

phalkmin profile image
Paulo Henrique

Will I ever get to a point where I'm comfortable with this stuff or is this just what programming is like?

Personally, this is the gift/curse of programming. It's like, I don't know, philosophy? If someday you feel that you understood everything, something is wrong 😛

kurealnum profile image

It's certainly a common feeling, and for most people, that's just what it's like. You'll never know everything, and that's fine. Personally, I would focus on "learning how to learn"; not that you aren't doing that already, but having that skill will let you feel a little bit more comfortable in an environment where you're unable to know everything. That's just my take though.

fyodorio profile image

You will if you persevere 😅 that’s the whole magic of it all.

“…I tell you I wonder sometimes what is going on inside me. I seem to recall the time when so much was a mystery to me and now things are so clear. Problems are absent. I come across what might be one, and somehow, inside me, I see and understand. And my guesses, my theories seem always to be borne out. There's a drive in me... always onward... so that I can't stop... and I don't want to eat or sleep... but always go on... and on... and on-“ (Isaak Asimov, “Foundation and Empire”)

ccoveille profile image
Christophe Colombier • Edited

You can either quote Socrates or Ygrid

  • I know I know nothing
  • you know nothing John Snow

Then you have to realize it's a great thing.

I have 20 years of experience and I'm still learning things almost every week, if not every day. There is always something new to learn. It's what is amazing with programming.

francheese9289 profile image

I'm in the same boat! I will say though, my bootcamp instructor (who is an alum of the same program) always gives me whiplash when I come to her with some complex code and she responds with simple answers.

Like the time I complained, "I'm not sure I understand lambda because I'm not using it." Or "My project only has barcharts." And she says, "well then don't use lambda" or "maybe all you need are barcharts." I think that's the appeal for overthinkers like me. If I'm stuck, I usually just have to back peddle and simplify.

canro91 profile image
Cesar Aguirre

Oh boy! Welcome to the club. "The more I know, the more I realized I know nothing." I wish I could credit that quote, but it reflects the feeling. (You know nothing, John Snow :))

Learning is like trying to find your way thru a dark room. You will stumble upon things, until you find the light switch. Then you go to another room to repeat the process.

manchicken profile image
Mike Stemle

The point is not to be good at knowing things. The point is to be good at understanding the fundamentals and finding out the rest.

My office is full of books that I've had for more than 20 years, and I still use many of them from time to time (though sometimes I have to update them). I constantly DDG for reference materials, and I keep all sorts of cheat sheets.

Also, don't be afraid to fact check yourself, and when you're wrong make sure that those you gave bad info learn you were wrong from you yourself. Practicing intellectual honesty and transparency not only makes you a valued colleague and friend, but it helps you reinforce your own learning and understanding. If you make a habit of being transparent about your mistakes, you also reduce the stakes of making those mistakes, and set an example for others that making mistakes isn't a bad thing but rather just part of the process.

Anyway, that's all the "old man" advice I have for you on that one.