Thursday, March 22, 2012

Confidence is Key

We all have a passion in life. Whether we realize what that is or not, we all do. It's what drives us. When we're feeling down, it's what keeps us going. Mine, as strange as it is, is programming. I have a deep seated passion for programming, i think partly because I love to be thinking. Music gets me thinking but it's not applicable to the job market. As much as i could preach that money is not important in life, it's difficult to life comfortably on $20,000 a year average.

Same thing with art. I love art, i love doing it even though i'm terrible at it because it stimulates my mind, but I also know I do not have the assertiveness to be successful in the art industry. Programming is all that's left for me and it's applicable to the job market but at the same time it's an extremely precarious market at best.

The way I look at the grand scheme of things, i was either born a few years too late or right on time. Being that i will be walking away with my first degree in a year in a half, i can only hope that our ugly job market will rear it's ugly head in time for me to easily find a job once i have my degree in hand. Until then i have spent the majority of my time recording programming video tutorials for the layman which i post on youtube weekly and practicing my hand at larger and more complex programs all the time.

I find this constant activity in my future job market almost a necessity since the competition is so tough. I don't have the money to go to an extremely reputable school like MIT, with their $100,000/semester rates or UC: Berkeley with their $50,000/semester rates. My resume won't exactly be lined with gold foil and so the necessity for being genuinely exceptional at what i do becomes very prominent.

The entire concept of constantly bettering my skills through trial by fire came to me not too long ago. I was working through a semester of programming classes and my final general education class for my degree when one day, out of the blue, it hit me that i may not be good enough to even compete with anyone in the field i'm aiming for. For whatever reason, i had lost all confidence in my abilities to perform as a programmer.

So i wallowed in my grief like a pathetic SOB for a little while then one day i decided i was going to leave my house for a change after class and go somewhere, anywhere just to escape the feeling of confinement that was overwhelming me. I made it to a local Starbucks and spent the entire day there doing nothing but writing code hat was on the very rim of my knowledge in C# (the language of choice for right now). By the time i was finished i had a fully debugged and functional program that i didn't think i could actually code earlier that day.

This accomplishment no matter how embarrassingly small gave me a renewed sense of hope. If i could successfully break the barriers that have presented themselves here, what was to stop me from breaking other barriers? Essentially i told myself that i would do my best to write a new program each week that would push the boundaries of my current knowledge in programming. No matter how small, or useless the program was. At this stage it's not about producing a marketable product, it's about getting comfortable with your current skills and getting to learn how you can manipulate them in ways you never thought possible before.

So here i am now, with a motley collection of two or three dozen useless programs, there are a few gems there, a few that i've placed on a website for people to download freely, but mainly, i consider the programs as hurdles that i've overcome, and every program brings a glorious sense of triumph when i publish it and zip up the installation files.

I would like to suggest that ability is 50% confidence, 50% knowledge. You can have the knowledge but be too timid to want to understand how to use it in out-of-the-box or off-the-wall ways. However, the flip is also true, you can have the confidence but none of the knowledge, and then you're just as easily useless. What do you or have you done to overcome your confidence issues? How much better off do you feel you are for doing so?

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