There’s a lot of hype surrounding coding, but it can be overwhelming for beginners. You might expect to be coding everyday and have no problems with it, but reality is often different than expectations. I’ll be honest: sometimes I don’t want to code after school or on weekends because it’s just not my thing! But don’t fear! There are times where we just need some time away from programming if we’re feeling burnt out or frustrated with something specific in our projects. Here are things you should know, Coding: Expectation vs Reality
EXPECTATION: I’ll finish this program in a few short weeks.
With expectations, you can make sure that your project is on track and that you’re completing it in a timely manner. You’ll know how long it will take to finish your first project, how long it will take to finish the next one, and so on.
If we look at this expectation from a different perspective—that of reality—we see that even though coding can be rewarding (and I’m biased), there are also some significant downsides along with some high highs:
REALITY: Coding is hard and requires years of practice.
Coding is a skill that takes years of practice to master, but it’s also one that you won’t be able to do in a few short weeks. You will not be able to code your way out of the problem and into a working program if you don’t put in the hours. The reality is that there are many factors at play when learning any programming language:
- Your background knowledge (what other languages have you already learned?)
- Your current skill level (how well can you write code right now?)
EXPECTATION: My first project will look like all those cool websites on Dribble.
In the same way that you can’t expect to build your first project like the ones on Dribble, don’t be discouraged if you can’t make your first project look like all those cool websites on Dribble.
The truth is that coding is hard, and there’s no way for anyone to know what they’re doing right off the bat (unless they’re born with perfect vision). The best thing we can do as coders is take advantage of our surroundings and learn from others who have been there before us so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel ourselves every time we try something new.
REALITY: Your first project will look nothing like your vision, but it’s a start.
You will likely go through a period of adjustment where you are learning how to code. This is normal! The first project you work on will look nothing like your vision, but it’s a start. Don’t be discouraged by this fact—it means the process of learning has begun and that you are on your way to becoming an excellent coder.
It’s important not to expect perfection from yourself or others when coding—you can always do better next time around, but there are no guarantees about what will happen in the future. You might have been able to complete your first coding project perfectly well before now, but now that I’m telling myself “You’re not perfect” (or anything else negative), maybe I’ll just stop trying altogether? That would be nice… This is one of the few things you should know, Coding: Expectation vs Reality
EXPECTATION: I’ll be coding everyday, no problem!
You will not be coding everyday. There will be times when you think, “I should really start working on that project.” And then there will be days when you don’t feel like it and decide to take a break.
You won’t have to code for 8 hours straight nonstop (or even 3 or 4). You won’t even have to work on your projects every day of the week—and certainly not every day during an entire semester!
Even if you’re lucky enough to get some free time at work, chances are it won’t last long enough for you to become completely immersed in programming projects; instead, it’ll just add up into more than one hour here and there throughout each week as well as over time throughout the year/semester/term/weekend…
REALITY: There are times where you just don’t feel like doing anything related to programming. And that’s ok! Take a break.
There are times where you just don’t feel like doing anything related to programming. And that’s ok! Take a break.
You can still learn from other people’s code, books, online courses and videos. You’ll find ways to do this while also taking care of yourself physically and emotionally by spending time with your friends or family members who support what you’re trying to achieve in life (or at least they should). This another thing you should know, Coding: Expectation vs Reality
EXPECTATION: I’m going to dominate my final project.
You might be surprised to learn that it’s okay to ask for help. Even if you think that your project is going to be a success, sometimes things just don’t work out and you need some extra hands on deck. Maybe there was an error in the code, or maybe someone was sick and couldn’t make it into class. Maybe you just want another pair of eyes looking over the project before handing it in—and even if none of these things seem like valid excuses for why someone else deserves credit for their contributions (and I wouldn’t fault anyone who felt this way), don’t hesitate!
The point here isn’t necessarily whether or not we can blame others who helped us finish our projects; rather, let’s focus on how much better off we’ll all be when we recognize our own strengths as well as those around us’ weaknesses—and then use them both together toward something greater than ourselves alone without letting either one get in our way.”
REALITY: Sometimes things just don’t work and you’re not sure why. It’s great to ask for help and lean on each other for advice!
When you’re learning to code, it can be difficult to understand why something doesn’t work. It’s normal! Sometimes things just don’t work and you’re not sure why. It’s great to ask for help and lean on each other for advice!
It is ok to ask your friend or family member if they know how something works technically (e.g., “Can you tell me how this algorithm works?”). You might also consider looking at online resources like Stack Overflow or Quora that provide answers from people who have experience with certain problems/questions. This is also of the few things you should know, Coding: Expectation vs Reality
Nothing about the coding journey will ever be easy, but that makes it worth it.
The coding journey is not easy. You will find yourself frustrated, in bad moods and good moods, learning a lot and learning nothing. It will be hard to get through the days because you’ll have no idea what’s going on in your code base or why it doesn’t work as expected. You might feel like giving up at times (and maybe even do so), but don’t!
I hope this post has helped you understand that coding is not a one-time deal. It’s a lifelong journey, and it’s filled with ups and downs. But at the end of the day, I think we can all agree on one thing: Code is fun!