Think back to the the last time you struggled mightily with a programming problem. Did you share it with the world?
If you didn’t, that’s totally OK — most of us don’t! Why would we? Nobody enjoys admitting defeat, much less wanting to make a big deal out of it.
But kudos to you if you did share your struggles, because I bet you made a pretty big positive impact on someone. It very well may have inspired them.
I’m speaking from experience. Someone I respect recently did exactly this for me out of the blue. We were chatting a bit when they mentioned how they were struggling with some parts of Kotlin, just as I was.
What an astonishing revelation! I was surprised (and impressed) by this honesty. How could it be that this person, a great programmer whom I admire and has done amazing work, be struggling just like me?!
It’s strange — logically I know that of course everyone struggles and has rough patches. But in an era of highly polished tweets, blog posts, and conference talks, it’d be forgivable to think that programmers out there never struggle with their work.
But of course they do. Which is why when someone you respect shares their real-world struggles with you, it reinforces and crystalizes an important point: there’s no magic to anything we do.
These vulnerable moments are a reminder that all of us are just programmers trying to do our best. That we all succeed basically the same way — by working hard, struggling, learning, and keeping at it with determination.
It also made me realize that while we often share our successes and expertise with the community, it’s much rarer that we humble ourselves and reveal our weaknesses. Don’t get me wrong — it’s amazing to be surrounded with smart people that are gracious enough to share their knowledge with us. A knowledgeable community is incredibly powerful.
But it’s also incredibly powerful and inspirational to share your struggles. Doing so isn’t a sign of impostor syndrome — no, it’s a sign confidence, generosity, and honesty. I’ve been fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of such honesty more than once, and it always inspires me to keep at it and have confidence in myself.
So remember, we all struggle. If you’ve hit a rough patch today, don’t fret. There’s a good chance just about everyone else has too. Hopefully they’ll tell you about it soon.✊
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