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What almost made you give up programming?

Lewis Menelaws
My name is Lewis Menelaws. I am a developer and entrepreneur located in Sarnia, Ontario focusing on creating great things for the web. Currently I am Lead Developer and Co-Founder of TMRRWinc.
・1 min read

Programming is so rewarding.

Sometimes though, you run into times where you just say: "Is this even worth it?" or "I should be doing something else with my life."

What made you get to that point and how did you recover?

For me, I became stressed out about how clients weren't as enthused as I was when I would show them my projects. I would look at their reactions at the designers' product and be amazed... but when they saw what I did it was either not good or just what they were looking for.

I overcame this when I took some time for myself and started communicating with other devs. I learned that I only needed to be proud of myself otherwise I would never be happy.

What almost made you give up programming? How did you recover?

Discussion (17)

jochemstoel profile image
Jochem Stoel

About 2 years ago I answered a similar question on Quora.

After high school I chose to pursue a career in IT. It was not much of a choice, it was the only thing I saw myself doing and I did not really have any other interests besides computers. It also was the easiest choice because I was already familiar with a lot of the material.

One thing however kept holding me back; programming. I tried, I really tried but I could not complete the simplest assignments that we were given. It just didn’t ‘click’, I did not see the bigger picture (any picture for that matter) I switched school three times because I failed this subject over and over again. I did not choose a different education and kept trying because it did interest me a lot and I wanted to learn how to make software.

While this is less than a hundred, print a plus symbol…unless x is larger than z, then return an instance of this or that….wtf am I doing and why is this useful?? I want to create software wtf???

Five years had passed and I was running out of time, basically wasting my life on this. On the last school in the region that teaches this subject I was about to fail again miserably when one day we were asked to make a calculator in c++. Suddenly and completely randomly something clicked and it suddenly made complete sense what I was doing. I completed the assignment within the hour (faster than any of my fellow students) and got a straight A. To this day, my calculator is still being used at that school as an example of how it should be done.

Today I am 29 years old and yet I am a senior developer. I know several programming languages and I can not picture myself doing anything else.
Don’t worry if you are struggling with learning how to code. If you really want to learn then eventually something will spark within you and you will laugh yourself silly that it seemed so hard in the past.

dustbuster profile image
Dustin Horning

I recently made the jump from working the last 3 years in procedural stacks to a php OOP MVC framework. I’m 39, I got 5 years total doing this professionally and this is a helluva learning curve. I’m working with Magento and it’s pretty difficult. I Switched jobs over the summer and I don’t have much time in laravel aside from what taught myself. I didn’t meet expectation and separated. Now at at this magento place and I don’t want to fail. I will go back to procedural stacks but I need to get good at this. Today my boss said I was getting behind. So I’m basically in a trial by fire situation and I’m making progress but I’d like to do better. It’s not that I would give up. But I need to get good at this.

ruudniewenhuijse profile image

Speaking from experience; Magento has quite a tough learning curve, especially if you're not used to doing things the Magento way. If working with Magento is what you need to do, just stick with it and at one point it'll get more natural and it can even be fun. It may just take months before it really "clicks". There's lots of jobs in Magento, so knowing it is very useful!

If you want to discuss Magento (2) or anything related, just send me a message! Just talking about "how to do it the Magento way" might relieve some of the stress and lead to new solutions.

dustbuster profile image
Dustin Horning • Edited

Thanks buddy!
Im getting there. I’m essentially alone here. We got a company In the Ukraine that we use and the engineer there helps me out when I get stuck. And it’s totally Magento 1.9. Not up to two yet.
I want to get good at this. But this is quite a learning curve! I was just getting good at laravel when that start up failed. I appreciate the offer!

le_newtype profile image
Nicholas ―M― • Edited

Being on projects that were poorly managed and then having to fire-fight, work 65+ hour weeks, and be constantly checked in with as a result. There was a time where leaving before 8pm felt like I was cheating at something.

It wasn't the programming that upset me, it was the lack of foresight and lack of respect for my time that made me very unhappy.

elmuerte profile image
Michiel Hendriks

Probably nothing will. It is just too much fun creating things. I see programming like the ultimate construction kit. It's better than Lego. It's often more complicated than lego, but then you can create something to make that easier.
There might be a point where I would consider stop programming professionally. But I highly doubt I will stop doing something I've been doing since I was a kid.

simoroshka profile image
Anna Simoroshka

I spent 5 years in university, got my degree with honours, and promised to myself never touch anything code related ever again. Or get myself into another degree. It was too much stress for too long and I was completely burnt out. The studying process was not very well organised, the courses and topics were far from the reality, my first part-time job in web dev was a disaster. There weren't any options for programming work in my town that would be even remotely interesting (or even paid well). I had been depressed for 2 years at that point.
So I ran and I got an office job. After a year it started being boring as hell, I recovered, and found myself on a quest to change everything, including country. The easiest option for moving was to get into a university, and with my background it could pretty much be only CS. Second time it wasn't so bad. :)

austinwhisman profile image
Austin Whisman

I'm on the upswing right now. I currently have no Bachelor's, however I have over a year in programming as a professional for a web agency. I landed that gig by meeting the owner three times a week at a local hookah lounge from 7pm to midnight working on simple projects. At the time I was working full time and then some between two jobs as well as going back to earn my associates for CS. Also played Men's side Rugby. I was 23.

After about three months I was hired full time for super cheap. I could've made more money if I had continued delivering pizzas, but I just wanted the experience.

Fast forward even more from there and the agency took a turn for the worst. Work became very sketchy and the owner's personal life created a huge conflict in the business that left me without a job. I applied and applied and even met with a recruiter, but without the Bachelor's degree it felt hopeless. After a while I just needed money. I currently work as an apprentice electrician and love it. I was burned out of coding for about 5 months after choosing a different career path, but as time went on, I began to miss it. Oddly enough it feels like I understand so much more this time around after getting a minute to compile all of my thoughts.

I currently code everyday for practice, and have a client who will throw me a bone as he gets busy. I'm hoping to make it a career again, and am having a blast learning again.

I am working on my Bachelors, and am playing it more patient this time around

teapisan profile image
🍹dum dum thai Thea • Edited

I was attending a top CS Undergraduate program in my home country, and at my freshman years all I know is using Windows OS and desktop apps with good GUIs, so I was freak out when I use Linux at my Intro to Programming class - the fonts of Notepad++ and shell are intimidating and so computer-ey.

I also had no idea what the Algorithm and Data Structures is talking about - and got abysmal grades on that subject. I was gaining weight for about 40 lbs, crying and depressed and even took a gap year during university because no one could understand me. I constantly reflected on why I was so messed up and even taught about changing major. But when I was get in touch with one of my college friend and he introduced me to Competitive Programming. Sure, I was really struggling as in CP using Algorithms and Data Structures are not uncommon, but starting from easy problems such as arrays (IMHO) gradually I got the "programmer's instinct" such as when to use while vs loop, when to use procedures of function, when to use OOP or functional programming, and so on. I realized that little details and in sequence are very important. Just like dieting, starting small and incremental progress makes me better. Do easy things first really boost your confidence and once you grasp that mental model, you are going to be more comfortable in learning new technologies. You know what? I even adopted this concept in dieting - and I successfully drop 60 lbs and currently in healthy weight despite not having strict dietary rules. It is really just making small changes throughout my dieting weeks and focusing on getting healthy instead of merely having certain body goals. The same with programming.

It's funny I used to be scared by programming, I end up enjoy it - and even now I mainly use Linux and OSX as my first-choice OSs and very proficient in git, and end up becoming freelance software developer with some large-to-medium scale project offers. I guess Cal Newport (So Good They Can't Ignore You) and Angela Duckworth (Grit) are right - passion is made through deliberate practice, and you can imagine passion as a bottom-up tree - which bottom nodes are the little things that you can do well, and then when visit upper node that is a sum of the leaves you are getting better until eventually you visit its root - your passion.

It's more like your mental model can be fit when it comes to programming, rather than IQ or anything like that (my IQ point is > 135 FYI). And always think there is always something missing when you failed and that can be small little things. Thank you for taking time to read.

lewismenelaws profile image
Lewis Menelaws Author

Love the story! Programming is very intimidating at first. We just gotta get over the intimidation and after it's a lot of fun. Thanks for sharing :)

chenge profile image

I had a rest for two years and want to change career because it's too hard and hurt body health.
I returned and pay attention to balance work and health.

lewismenelaws profile image
Lewis Menelaws Author

A great balance is really all it can take! Glad it worked out for you chenge!

theredspy15 profile image
Hunter Drum

It took me waaay longer than the average to learn to code. It was about 6 six months of C++, and the most I could do was a simple command line RPG.

I almost completely gave up, as I couldn't grasp much of the topics and never took the time to actually learn full time.

I later picked up Java. One month in, started a project. A terrible remake of Oregon trail in JavaFX. But simply being able to create some kind GUI wowed me, and I got real serious about learning to code.

Now I look back at my original projects, and cringe (as well as laugh)

stevieoberg profile image
Stevie Oberg

So when I started college I was kind of out of options, I wanted to become a writer and the school I wanted to go to was too expensive. So I went to the local Technical College and took some computer classes (unix, animation, and hardware), which seemed reasonable to take since I spent almost all my time on the computer, and some of that time making websites.

However, I absolutely hated it.

So much so that I swore never to go into tech and I even ended up transferring to a community college! (Though that was in part because I wanted a more well-rounded education) It wasn't until my last semester that I decided to give tech another try, so I took a web class that covered HTML, CSS, & JavaScript. That class changed me, when I transferred to a 4-year I was determined to get a degree in CS.

The rest is history! Though funnily enough Web Design is now one of my least favorite subjects of CS (still love it but I'd rather do other things) and Unix is one of my favorites!

dnnsmoyo profile image
Dennis m

I'm about to give up. No one cares about my projects or skills. My posts and messages always get ignored on linkedin and the freelancing is not working out. Only had 1 paying project but then it was downhill from there. I've at this for 3 years and it seems like a dead end.

ondrejs profile image

Low salary (compared to my corporate friends). So I've got job in corporation too = problem solved.