Sometime in the early nineties–when I was a young lad in high school–I had a friend who rekindled my interest in computers. Of all the conversations we had one thing that he told me remains burned into my brain to this day, “don’t be afraid…”. Now I’ve put the ellipsis there because I can’t quite remember exactly what the phrase was, but we were talking about computers and my fear of breaking something while exploring them. His advice was basically that you’ll never learn if you’re afraid of doing something wrong. The essence of which I’ve realized is that fear will inhibit learning.
Fearest not and thou shalt learn
I can’t tell you how often I’ve looked at an article or a spec and thought to myself, “Oh my God, this is insane, I can’t understand this,” and it’s the times that I’ve plowed through and actually tried reading through it that I’ve learned something. The same thing happens whenever I read some of the more brilliant members of the web development community’s blogs and think to myself “what the hell are they talking about?” My first instinct is always to just close the window and move on. “This stuff’s way over your head Ara.” But by persisting, I’m able to fight that urge to ignore the difficult and actually learn something. Or at the very least get a primer on the subject for the next time I come across a similar article on the same thing.
I’ve come to realize that it has a lot to do with how you see yourself. If you’re a fatalist at heart and think that all that complicated stuff is for geniuses, you’ll forever remain a newbie. And I’ve got news for you, the more you learn the more the magic fades and you realize that a large number of those “geniuses” weren’t geniuses at all, just more learned. If you commit to not being afraid of a subject that’s “too complicated” and decide to dive head first into it instead, the worst that can happen is that you’ll learn something. And the more you play around with the stuff, the more you’ll learn. Before you know it, you’ll be the one writing the articles.
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