Jacki Murphy

Half-Heartedly Trying to be Famous on the Internet Since 1999

A Short Treatise on Learning to Code

So, I suck at coding.

I desperately want to be good at it. I'm just not.

I've done the Python tutorial on about 97 different websites over the years. I've cried and failed at Advent of Code twice in a row now. I've played around with PHP, JavaScript, Haskell, Scala, Go.

It doesn't stick.

And yet, I persevere. I'm not sure why. I am pretty good at a lot of things in the broad realm of IT. If I applied myself, and studied really hard, I could probably get a job in any number of them. Programming? Probably not.

But I keep on going. It's a labor of love, I guess.

Because when something does work? I feel like I have superpowers.

I know it's ridiculous. Thousands and thousands of people know how to code. It's just a skill. Maybe we could class Margaret Hamilton as a programming superhero. Or Grace Hopper. Maybe even the guy who wrote Rollercoaster Tycoon in x86Assembly. But not me. Nobody is ever going to be impressed with my cheesy Choose-Your-Own-Adventure game or MadLibs generator.

And yet, to me, it is magical. Every time I run a program and it does what I wanted it to do, I'm once again eight years old and playing with my first computer, amazed at the green monochrome wonder of Carmen Sandiego. I'm once again 13 and hearing "You've Got Mail!" for the very first time. I'm 15 and building my very first website full of blinking marquees.

Programming is a skill. If I keep working at it, it's bound to stick eventually. And even if it doesn't - even if I never master anything beyond the simplest Python program - if it continues to fill me with the wonder of a little kid playing with her first computer, I'd say that it is so completely worth it.

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