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6 common anxieties for new coders (& how to overcome them)

I'm Fahim, a software developer turned tech founder. This article is part of my series: The Developer’s Launchpad. I'll share my top lessons, hacks, and best practices for learning how to code and launching a new career — things I wish I would've known earlier in my journey. If you're starting out your own coding journey, this series is for you.

Countless passionate and proficient developers have struggled with anxiety in their early coding days. I personally experienced anxious thoughts, as well. While it's not uncommon to feel anxious when learning to code, it can definitely feel like it’s slowing down and limiting your learning journey.

The good news is that most coding-related anxieties are based on unrealistic expectations, myths, or self-limiting beliefs. By understanding the particular anxiety you're dealing with, you will be better equipped to manage and overcome it.

Today I want to unpack some common anxieties that affect beginner coders. Then I will share some tips that may help you address them, so you can confidently progress towards your new career

These are:

Let's get started.

6 common coding anxieties for new devs

1. Fear of math

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For those with negative associations with math, the math skills required for coding can be intimidating. The amount of math you will need to undertake is a matter of your specialization.

If you know what specialization you want to pursue, you can clarify how much math you need to know, and make a step-by-step plan. Some specializations might not need very advanced math. For instance, front-end web developers may only need basic algebra, arithmetic, and geometry. However, on the back end, web developers require a deeper understanding of advanced mathematics, including calculus and trigonometry. Other specializations such as machine learning engineers and game developers would need more extensive math knowledge, including linear algebra and statistics.

If math involved in programming burdens you, I recommend:

  • Starting with logic and problem solving skills.
  • When you move on to math, practice regularly to build your confidence.
  • Be patient. Over time, you will improve.

2. Overwhelm about how much there is to learn

There are a lot of skills you need to learn to become a developer. For some, the list of concepts to master is enough to put their stomach in a knot.

Just like with any big undertaking, the only way to manage it effectively is to break it down into digestible, small steps. Meanwhile, track your progress. Even if it feels like you're moving slowly, each small step is an indispensable prerequisite to your coding goals.

As a developer, the hard truth is that the learning never stops: even experienced developers must continuously learn to keep pace with the industry. Ultimately, you need to find a way to enjoy the learning process; approach new concepts with curiosity and excitement to grow your skills.

It's important to realize that learning to program is a big task. Regular practice is key to your long-term success. If a complex problem overwhelms you, break it down into smaller steps. Over time, familiarity and experience will help you understand concepts with increasing depth.

Tip: Approach learning with curiosity. Break down learning goals into small steps.

3. Fear of failure

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Fear of failure is a common concern among beginners. It's important to remember that making mistakes is a critical part of the learning process. Coding is about iteration: we write, test, and fail — then we learn and improve.

Every mistake is an opportunity for deeper understanding.

Your relationship with failure can determine your success in learning to code. If you react to mistakes with negative self-talk and think about how stupid your mistake was, you'll only be making the learning process more difficult for yourself. However, if you respond to mistakes constructively and curiously investigate where you went wrong, you can reinforce foundational concepts and learn from your mistakes.

Realizing that it's ok to make mistakes when programming will enable you to learn effectively. In fact, it will give you more confidence to engage in one of the most crucial learning activities: hands-on coding practice.

4. Performance anxiety

Performance anxiety concerns the quality of your performance, particularly under the pressure of being timed or evaluated. For new coders, this often presents itself as testing anxiety or interview anxiety.

The real danger with performance anxiety is that it can affect your ability to think clearly. Although you may know how to solve a particular problem, your anxiety could cause you to draw a blank in the moment — which could cause problems in an interview setting.

To overcome this anxiety, practice is key to building confidence. After all, think about an Olympic tennis player. They don't think as they play. Instead, they rely on muscle memory that's been honed through focused practice.

So practice often. If you can, do so in conditions similar to the real scenario (e.g., mock interviews).

5. Imposter syndrome

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I know plenty of accomplished developers who still struggle with feelings of inadequacy because of imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is the belief that your skills and accomplishments are not valid, and that you're a fraud. In the programming field, it can affect everyone, but imposter syndrome can especially impact marginalized groups, including women.

Some strategies that can help with imposter syndrome include:

  • Keep track of and recognize your achievements
  • Be mindful of negative self-talk and peer comparison
  • Seek out a community of coders who share similar experience and background
  • Learn to live with self-doubt instead of letting it hold you back (for some, it never goes away)

6. Believing you aren't "techy" enough

While it's natural to struggle with new programming concepts, some learners attribute their difficulties to the belief that they aren't "techy" enough to be a programmer. I've often seen this affect those who have negative associations with math or technology, or who come from a different background such as humanities or the arts.

Any struggles you have along the way are not because you lack some innate ability of being "techy" enough. In fact, the opposite is true: you already possess one of the core skills of programming: problem-solving.

While you may be new to programming, you've been solving problems since you were young. Everyday tasks such as shopping, making social plans, and even playing games involve problem-solving skills. Learning to program involves applying those same natural problem-solving skills to identify a solution, then translate that solution as instructions for a computer.

Overcoming the hurdle

Anxieties are a common challenge among aspiring developers, but it's possible to overcome them. The more you know about your particular anxiety, the better equipped you'll be to manage it.

Whatever hurdles you face in your coding journey, I'm confident you'll find a way to overcome them. And if any of my tips helped today, I'll be glad!

As a reminder, you can learn all the skills you need to go from your first line of code to your first job with Educative's Learn to Code resources. Code as you learn, quiz your knowledge, and get personalized AI assistance and feedback. Check it out here.

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Top comments (2)

anmolbaranwal profile image
Anmol Baranwal

It mostly relates to mindset, and we all face it at some point, mainly because there will always be someone better than us. I guess it's a mix of feeling inspired and overwhelmed at the same time.

shyam_10 profile image
Shyam raj

Wow.. This gives me a brief relief.. Thanks alot.. For this🥹❤️