As a teenager in the 90s, I was living in a small and cold town in France. I was doing not much of my life: going to school, playing video games, watching TV, ... My family’s revenue was pretty modest, so I never had the latest fancy game consoles or toys. On top of that, I was not very confident, and I was going on a bad path in terms of weight which accentuated my lack of self-confidence.
Early high school, both my parents went through depression. My mom got sick and had to stay in bed for months. It hit me too. I failed my year. Life was pretty pointless at the time. Everything was falling apart, and I couldn’t do anything. I felt lonely and powerless. I felt I was not belonging here.
Then I got fed up with the situation, and I decided to change that. At that time the Internet has been my greatest companion. This window on the world allowed me to get in touch with people from all around the world. I started to be part of communities and bounded with several people remotely. This brought me to think that I could be part of that world. And that I started to feel that I wanted to contribute. This is where I decided to try to make websites for the communities I was part of.
At the time, the easiest to make websites was with PHP. And this is what I just did. I started my journey by documenting myself. I gathered information and good resources. On a second step, I printed tutorials and documentation on paper, and I read them carefully. I tried to read everything, line by line, to understand the essence of each concept. But I still left some difficult concepts aside like object-oriented programming (OOP). On a third step, I started to experiment with all the theoretical knowledge I acquired.
The last and final step that really got me into the rabbit hole of programming has been to contribute to the world. I made websites for online communities I participated in. And I started to get something amazing: recognition. I was not just a random name, a random loser. I was the programmer or the webmaster.
Sometimes in life, you feel like you don’t belong here. Sometimes in life, you feel lost and the world around you is pulling you down even more. But don't forget, there are so many exciting things, and whenever you find one thing you really enjoy you should try to stick to it. It can be programming like me, it can be dancing, it can be writing, it can be anything. Go through the obstacles. Pull yourself up. Be the best of yourself. Contribute to that world. At some point, you will get recognition, and you will understand that you belong here. You just hadn’t realized it yet.