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Cover image for Comfortable in Speedos

Comfortable in Speedos

fusiello profile image Silvio ・3 min read

Photo by Danial RiCaRoS on Unsplash

Back in 1994, when I was 12, I decided that I really wanted to learn to swim, and so my dad took me for swimming lessons at our local pool.

Only at the time I wasn't sure I was in the right place.

All of the other children there were way younger than me, some were as young as half my age.

I stood there, already feeling strange in my Speedos, part of the group, but not really part of the group.

I could feel them look at me when I wasn't looking, their sideways glances.

I remember feeling extremely nervous and wondering what they were thinking, likely that I should be able to swim by now, being twice their age.

I felt like I didn't fit in.

The teacher was trying his best to be super nice and inclusive, making me feel very welcome. Even so, I felt a slight humiliation that I was so much older than everyone else here.

But I really wanted to swim.

I wanted it so bad that I managed to convince myself to just ignore them and everybody and everything. I ignored my own thoughts and I ignored their glances.

It wasn't easy at first, but the more I did it the easier each week became and the more I enjoyed going to each lesson.

I actually remember looking forward to swimming each week.

I soon forgot I was wearing Speedos, in fact I learned to feel comfortable in them, like a sort of uniform, and was able to really focus on learning and application.

In what felt like no time at all, I was on my way to becoming a swimmer. I even started making friends with some of the group.

It was a great and happy time in my life.

Fast forward 26 years, and all over again I'm by the pool, feeling strange in Speedos.

Well sort of.

I'm 38 years old now and I've decided I really want to learn to code, a change of career after many years in retail and admin, but I'm surrounded by (online at least) lots of people way younger than me, some as young as half my age.

All over again I'm having to rediscover how difficult it is to be new at something. I'm really trying to keep my head down, to again focus on learning and application.

It's more difficult a task now, especially as I have children of my own.

This time around instead of sideways glances filling my thoughts, it's changing nappies and the sound of children's television on in the background, not to mention working a full time job.

I keep saying to myself, baby steps.

So far I have covered HTML, CSS and JavaScript. I don't know these languages even remotely well, but I know the basics.

Then I discovered Python.

That's the journey I'm on now. I'm finding it super difficult, and feel a slight humiliation at being older, but on the very rare occasion that I type something and it works the first time, it's as though I'm on a high, a huge feeling of elation like I want to scream (and sometimes I do).

Little wins.

It's these instances that keep me going and that brighten my day, my wife even notices.

It's easy to feel like you're not making progress when you’re new at something, or that at times it feels like it is too difficult, but you have to persevere and break through what runners call, the wall.

The wall is your mind telling you that you are not good enough, when you really are.

I know from past experience that if I can keep going, keep ignoring my thoughts and try to focus, I'll soon be on my way to becoming a developer.

It's just a matter of time.

And I might even make some friends along the way, which would be brilliant.

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Ben Sinclair

That's cool.

To be honest, there probably is some systemic resistance to people coming into the field at a later point in life, although here in the UK I haven't really noticed it that much. I got my first software job when I was about 35 I think - though I'd been a hobbyist programmer all my life - and I've always been treated fairly.

The fear that people might wonder why at this point you're not some kind of expert is valid. Some youngsters will expect you to have all the answers!

Good luck.

EDIT: I'm absolutely certain there must be stock images of people with laptops in Speedos.