Recently, my colleague made an excellent remark when I talked to him about how lack of self confidence influenced my beginnings as a professional coder. He said, “well, that’s because you were 25 at the moment, not 19-20 like most of your college colleagues”. And he was right.
A day or two after that I had one more interesting conversation with a younger friend who is thinking about starting to learn to code. Naturally, he’s scared because he thinks he’s too old.
Why do most of my younger colleagues have enough self confidence not to be freaked out? Perhaps, coding is the first thing they are trying to learn, besides mandatory school stuff and they have no reason to doubt or question themselves. They take it one step at a time and they are generally in no hurry. They know they will get there in the end. I don’t know whether that’s the case in the world, but sure is among most Croatian coding students.
On the other hand, if you are starting later, like I did, you probably already have some sort of a failed enterprise behind you – otherwise you probably wouldn’t be trying to switch careers in the first place. You were probably carefree and relaxed once, not thinking much about the future. Then you hit a wall and started wondering – how did I get here?
That was the case with me, although I was genuinely interested in coding to begin with, but I lacked the determination and confidence to start. Before all that, I got a BA in communication studies (de facto journalism). Being a journalist in Croatia is not easy because you often start with no salary what so ever (like I did) and you hope for the best. Hope is a cruel mistress, as they say, and with good reason. Suffice to say that career path didn’t take me far. I am sorry that social sciences and humanities are often not valued today.
To recap, I believe that the lack of self confidence spurred from previous negative experiences and/or failures. However, that doesn’t mean failures are to be expected in the future. Once you make peace with that, you can continue on learning without being in your own way. Also, and most important, being older than most of your colleagues doesn’t mean you are behind or that you don’t have the same chances as the others have. You have as much chances as you choose. As master Yoda said, “do or do not, there is no try.”