You Can Learn How to Code
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Can I Learn JavaScript?

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a post on mindset, and I think this one is long overdue. As many of you may know, I spend quite a bit of time on Quora providing encouragement to those who are struggling to learn JavaScript. As someone who wasn’t a natural fit for programming, I think it is important to let others know that the struggle and the push to learn a technical skill set is normal. And that is what I am going to focus on today and address those of you who ask yourselves, can I learn JavaScript? I am here to tell you that you can and to help you pinpoint if you haven’t yet found the right course or if you need to reframe your beliefs about learning how to program.

What’s Wrong with Me? Why Can’t I Learn It?

Do you ever take a course or try to learn through a book only to find yourself feeling frustrated, confused and less intelligent than people who have successfully learned web programming? If the answer is yes, you’re not alone. I actually spent a few years in that state!

tired woman typing at computerReframing Our Beliefs

When we think, I can’t learn this, we are reinforcing a negative and false belief about ourselves, so let’s correct this right now: It’s not that you can’t learn it. Instead, we need to reframe this as you’re in the process of learning it.

To illustrate, I will reference one of my favorite scenes in the movie The Blind Side. There is a moment when the then aspiring professional football player Michael Oher sat at the table with his books spread out, looking dejected and confused. He said to his tutor, “I don’t understand it.” This was normal for Oher because he had always struggled with his school work. The tutor, though, countered with, “you don’t understand it yet.” After that, things began to shift for Oher. He continued to work hard, but once he had the proper mindset, he began to improve his academic performance.

And this is exactly the way it is with learning JavaScript or a programming language in general: it can take some time for your brain to wrap itself around programming concepts and constructs.

So, if you’re feeling stuck, my advice is to talk away and revisit your course the next day when you’re feeling better. If you don’t understand it the next day, then try again, this time looking for other explanations on Stack Overflow or through Google. Keep reading and learning and repeating this process. Eventually, you will wake up one day and the concept will click. This is what it is like to learn tech skills. We often want to give up because it is uncomfortable, but I encourage you to keep at it because this is the process.

Build Your Skills

young man working alone on a macintosh computerOnce you’re able to correct your mindset and start to believe that you’re in the process of learning rather than believe that you can’t learn, it is important to ensure that you have a course that will meet your needs. That said, it is important to acknowledge that no one course can teach you everything about JavaScript. It is a huge, vast, deep language that has many add-ons, libraries, frameworks, etc. The trick is to find a course that will teach you enough so that you can take your first confident steps into building the web applications, websites, and online experiences that will get you hired.

One of the courses that helped me solidify my experience with learning the language was Colt Steele’s Web Developer Bootcamp. On occasion, I get asked why I recommend his course so often. The answer is because it works! You don’t need multiple courses to learn JavaScript basics, and believe me: I am someone who purchased multiple courses, trying to find the magic combination of instruction that would allow me to learn without struggling.

We’ve established, though, that struggling is part of the process, and those who struggle a lot need a course that breaks the concepts down in easily digestible lessons and presents enough challenges to complete so that the concepts stick. Colt’s course did that for me. If you’d like to learn more about it, you can check out my in-depth review.

You Will Probably Never Master JavaScript and That’s Okay

experienced programmer evaluating code of a junior web developerOne of the mistakes I made was that I thought I needed to know everything about JavaScript before I applied for a job, so I kept at my education, learning as much as I could about the language. On some level, it’s because I felt intimidated and not confident in my skill set, perhaps because I struggled hard to learn it.

I recognize now that I was struggling with impostor’s syndrome, and I know now that it is very real when it comes to web development and web programming. Why? Because there will always be someone who knows more than you do. There will always be someone who can code circles around you on Stack Overflow. There will always be someone who can explain things better, catch on quicker, and correct your code.

And you know what? That’s okay! Because if you always keep learning, one day, you will be considered the smartest person in the room, even though there will always be others who know even more. The takeaway is that you don’t need to be a master at JavaScript to earn a living as web developer; you just need to know enough about the language to be able to build web applications and to troubleshoot effectively when you get stuck.

What Do You Struggle With?

When it comes to learning web development, are there topics that you continue to struggle with? Did you read this post because you have been unable to find the right course or are you having difficulty seeing yourself as a successful developer? Whatever you’re struggling with, I can tell you that your problem has a solution. Either you have not found the right course or you need to reframe how you think about your progress.

I hope this post has helped you and that you will come back to it when you need some encouragement! I wish you the very best with your learning, and if I can help in any way, please reach out to me in the comments or email me at laura.white@youcanlearnhowtocode.com.

4 comments

  1. Hi Laura,

    What a great post! I have been there when I thought I did not know enough, and therefore did not apply for a role that I knew I could do if hired.

    Some great tips inside this post. I agree that only you can hold yourself back. This is true in everything we second guess and hold back, we need to let go and see where we end up and enjoy the learning journey.

    No one is a true master of everything and even the so-called teachers can be taught different things and ways of working.

    Thanks

    Khayyam

    1. Thanks, Khayyam! I’m glad this article was helpful for you. And you’re absolutely right: no one is a master of everything. You need to learn enough to be able to build some decent if basic web applications and troubleshoot problems. It is often the aspiring web developers who don’t trust their own abilities who are most worthy of a position, so I encourage you to go for it again when you’re ready! I wish you the best as you carve out your career as a web developer.

  2. I feel overwhelmed when it comes to the nuts and bolts of web development and marketing. I don’t think, at my age, I’ll be delving into Javascript myself, but your post here makes me realize how important it is for my Nepali assistant to continue to learn more. He’s been teaching himself from a few platforms and has come a long way already.

    I will share your post with him because it is really helpful.

    1. Thanks for your comments! I hope your assistant finds this post helpful. If he has any questions on how to get started, I am happy to help.

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