This, like most things I’ll ever learn, I learned the hard way. It is difficult to admit, but for a long time, I thought I was doing programming wrongâ„¢ because I kept getting so many error messages. I thought that if I were a real programmer, I wouldn’t get any error messages because I would write it correctly the first time. I didn’t realize that success in programming looks like a succession of error messages, each a little further into the problem you are diagnosing than you were before. This. Is. Huge.
I wish someone could have told me years ago, but I think for anyone who is comfortable programming it would feel like telling me to remember to breathe. Luckily I had the chance to pair program with some great developers and I learned by watching them go through the process – watching them deal with the ego bruising frustration and eventual elation of solving a problem, one error message at a time. Without them, I never would have felt the rush of “Wahoooo! Different error message than before!” It is amazing. One minute you think you will never, ever, ever solve the problem… and the next, zomg, I’m king of the world! Rinse, repeat.
It is beautiful to experience such joy (and pain) in solving problems, and it helps me remember that I’m neither the king of the world nor the developer who will never, ever solve the problem, but a bit of both, and a lot in between. In CSS, after 13 years writing the language, I can often just look at a bug and say “this has to be x, y, or z.” If I hadn’t gotten out of my comfort zone, I never could have had so much fun. :)