Why I thought I couldn’t be a coder

For decades, I believed that I could never be a computer programmer. I was wrong.

In elementary school, my brothers were fascinated with computers, playing and writing their own computer games. Since computer games didn't interest me, why should I go into computers programmer?

As a high school student, I stumbled across a computer programming book and tried to teach myself to code. My main memory of the experience is weeks of crying in quiet desperation because I could not mentally untangle a particularly difficult concept with few examples and even fewer exercises. Since I couldn't understand that those few pages, how could I become a computer programmer?

Once in college, I enrolled in an introductory programming course. The class had barely started when the computer science department announced that the language being taught was obsolete and students would learn a different language … starting the next semester. Since I had learned only an obsolete language, how could I become a computer programmer?

In graduate school for technical communications, I enrolled in a computer course about networking as an elective. The first day of class, the professor announced the class had too many students, and he encouraged all non-computer science majors to drop the class before he failed them. A few days later, I reluctantly took his advice and dropped the class. Since I was an English major, I had no business trying to learn computers.

While on hiatus from the workforce to raise and educate my children, I looked into coding bootcamps. Although I found a couple of well known coding boot camps in my area, they were all cost prohibitive with demanding schedules that didn't work for my family. Since I didn't have thousands of dollars, couldn't put my life on hold for several weeks, and didn't have nights or weekends free, I couldn't become a computer professional.

Eventually, I overcome all of those earlier nay-sayers, including myself! I discovered that solving problems with computer code is far more personally satisfying than playing computer games. I learned that if one resource doesn't make sense, find another one. When I ended up juggling projects that required three different programming languages in the same week, I found that knowing any specific computer language is less important being able to think through a coding problem. Most importantly, I realized that I loved coding.

Coming from a non-traditional background, I don't have decades of experience padding my resume. Instead, I must let the quality and usefulness of my code speak for itself.