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Jessica Wilkins
Jessica Wilkins

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How I overcame the fear of learning something new and embraced the joy of learning

When I first started learning how to code back in 2020, I struggled a lot with learning the basic concepts. I would often beat myself up for not learning things quickly and questioned if programming was really for me.

Fast forward two years, and I am now working as a developer and enjoy learning new concepts every day. In this article, I will walk through my initial points of fear and the steps I took to break through to the other side of joy.

Why was I scared in the first place?

Before being a developer, I was a professional musician and had spent most of my life in music. Ever since I was a little kid, I was always involved with some sort of performance, festival or other musical activity. Over time, I became very comfortable with my skills and enjoyed tackling new challenges.

When the pandemic hit, I started learning how to code and this was the first time in a while that I was struggling to learn something new. Every time a new challenge would come up, my first tendency was to walk away from it. At the time, I think I was scared to try because if I failed then that meant I wasn't supposed to be a programmer.

But then I realized that the struggle was part of the learning process. I thought back to when I taught music lessons and my students would struggle with learning a new passage. I had to remind them that struggling to understand it now was part of the process and that they were on their way to figuring it out. I had to take those same words and repeat them back to myself.

Once I started to embrace that part of the learning process, learning how to code became less stressful and started to become fun. I found myself sticking with a problem longer and feeling that sense of accomplishment when I finally figured it out.

Steps I took to break through the fear of learning new things

One of the things that helped me was to find a passion project I was interested in and start working on it. I would come up with an idea and then try to figure out what technologies were needed to build the project. I made sure to start with small projects and take baby steps in learning new things. After a few months of practicing this skill and getting outside of my comfort zone, I started to embrace learning and felt empowered to keep going.

Does that fear still come up today?

Of course! 😆

Right now at work, I am learning a whole lot about GraphQL and Apollo Server. There is a ton of new information being thrown at me with this new project but I am trying to embrace the process of learning. Every ticket I pick up is an opportunity for me to learn something new. Even though I will get stuck on problems and will spend time working my way through them, it feels good to get on the other side and figure it out.


When you are starting something new, it is completely normal to feel anxious about unfamiliar territory. My advice is to take a deep breath and take one small step at a time. Remember, every bit of struggle is one step closer to learning something cool and arriving at the point of joy 😃

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