June 22, 2023
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Beginner General

No, People Aren't Learning to Code in 3 Months

At the start of your programming journey, it's natural to wonder how long you need before you're up to scratch and ready to strike it rich in the big, wide world as a bonafide programmer.

After all, after you've spent 1 month, 3 months, or a year on your journey, it can feel like you aren't making much progress. It's natural to want to compare yourself to others and see where you should be on your journey.

A quick Google would suggest the magic number to learn programming is 3 months. This is backed up by stories online about hot-shots who buckled down, ignored their children, gave up their entire lives, and programmed for 24 hours a day.

If you've been programming longer than that, it's easy to feel like you're falling behind, you're not cut out for programming, or you're just not hardcore enough in your approach.

Except these stories have a gaping hole they never address: When have you finished learning programming?

As a question, it has no answer. You never finish learning programming, and that's okay. It's an endlessly complex world with amazing breadth, depth, and nuance.

Programming is a skill, so when I hear someone say they "learned" it in a month, I treat it with the same skepticism as if someone has confidently walked up to me claiming they learned to paint or French.

I'm sure they made amazing progress in that time, but take these stories with less a grain and more a boulder of salt. They're more likely to be click-bait or a victim of Dunning-Kreuger than a legitimate story that you can learn from.

If you've spent 3 months, or 6 months, or 10 years programming, and don't feel like you've learned how to program, you're completely right. There is always more to learn, so the best path to success is consistent, sustainable growth.

Have faith in yourself. You're building a muscle. It takes time, and it can be very difficult to notice a difference from one day to the next. Sometimes, it's worth looking back to appreciate how far you've come.

When I first started programming, I'd look back on code that I'd written only a few months before, and be shocked by how bad it was compared to what I could do now.

You're building a muscle. The most important thing is that you keep at it.

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