How to learn to code or program and dealing with the valley of despair

Posted on January 14, 2019 by Aisah in Coding journey

How to deal with the valley of despair in your coding journey. (how i did, where i am now, where i want to go)

How I did:

The thing i consider my first actual programming thing was back
when i was working at a software tester at a company and we had to calculate the hours we worked for different clients. In that time the company used excel for calculating their time attendence needs. So we needed to copy, paste and sum the hours in a certain format. But we had to do it so much that it got really tedious.

I came across several books on VBA programming and a lot of sweat and maybe some tears, i don’t remember, later i managed to figure out a way to make  a macro for the calculations. I was so proud and i felled like i solved a real world problem which is actually the goal of  programming. I think that, that result and that period really sparked my interest in automating stuff and making things easier with code.I still code in Excel VBA but i went on learning bits of several languages all over the place.

What i know

So what i have seen over the years is that you can learn to code in two ways. The formal way is looking for a school and getting a degree in for instance  software development or you can do the route i have currently taken and look for books, research the internet and do the self teach thing. I personally think the amount of sweat and tears you have to pay is the same. BUT The journey is different for every one and i guess i am also here to give you some  insight in mine, so that it can help you develop yours. (coding or other wise)

Where I am now

If i sit and think i can tell you that i know about the following:

– HTML and CCS (yes, i know HTML is not a programming language, but it is essential to know if you want to be a solid developer)
– The Framework Bootstrap
– PHP (i managed to write my own wordpress theme. This blog has that)
– Python (This language that i have currently chosen to focus on)
There is more i learned about but i won’t add that to this list. They are little bits and pieces of several things that don’t fit in an item.

But to be honest i feel a bit stuck sometimes. I am feeling the valley of despair. Now there are several theories out there in different subjects on this abstract
valley but this is kind of what it looks like for me:

The Valley of despair

I am staring at my screen at a empty document that is supposed to contain more beautifull words and code explnations. I read to several Stack Overflow questions and
answers trying to figure out the correct code to use and looking for information to actually understand the code.

My daughther is sitting in my eye line of sight and she is working on her homework that i help her with. (She is 7) She is sometimes looking at me a bit cross because
she actually wants to play or watch tv. Thank God my youngest is sleeping or else he would be grabbing my shirt because he wants to breastfeed. I am feeling guilty, because shouldn’t i feel happier?

I know there is knowledge in my head and i am finally getting myself to actually work on a plan but all these voices are there:

“So many people think you re a fool for trying to learn and do this and you have nothing to show for it”

“You re an awful mom for trying to take this time for yourself. You should have a cleaner house and more organized house.”

“Other people are doing more than you, you are weak because you think this is hard”


These thoughts may sound harsh but are actual words that have been said to me. It’s a weird place. If you don’t make something workable, you don’t feel very confident.
But you need some confidence to actual write some stuff down. To make it happen. What kind of works for me is that knowing that this feeling is common. Common enough that the call it the valley of despair. KNowing that this exists makes me think there may be light at the end of the tunnel. I found this picture of the valley of despair.

valley of despair

picture of valley of despair

At the beginning of learning something new or starting a new project. You feel as confident as you can be. But then in the middle of it alll, you feel guilty that it isn’t working out as you thought. But when you push trough you’ll get to the other side. I can tell you i haven’t seen the other side yet. But i’ll push trough and if for some reason you are also there. i know so can you.

So where do i want to go with the whole programming thing?

It is still kind of a blur, but i do know that knowing how to code is something that has made me valueble in different situations: In my work, in companies where i have worked, in running this blog, just talking to other people in general.

I think that for the blog i will continue to write about coding stuff and the other things i’ve been writing about. For the ending of this post i think it would be a good idea to make a picture some area’s where well known programming languages are being used. This is the result:

Programming info

Programming info

I know it’s not the prettiest or most extensive picture out there but i think i can give people a general idea about the areas of programming languages
Suggestions on how to make it better are most certainly welcome.

Untill then. Happy Coding. You can do it

With a twinkle and a smile,




A fellow-traveler of life figuring out the way. I like to share little nuggets of wisdom i found on this journey. blogger coder baker mom of 2


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