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Constantly feeling overwhelmed?

Regicid3Regicid3 Registered User regular
edited November 2007 in Help / Advice Forum
I'm constantly overwhelmed and it's driving me insane and I'm sick of wasting time doing nothing but I can't stop.

I want to be a programmer in the future, but I am overwhelmed by simply looking a tutorial site. I think it's because of how much time it will take until I'm considered "competent".

I'd like to learn how to play keyboard, but like programming... I'll look at tutorials or what have you and just get overwhelmed and start posting on forums.

I'll think to myself "Well, maybe... you're overwhelmed because you don't really want to do it." but then I'll get overwhelmed simply playing video games. I know I love programming and it is something I want to continue in the future but I can't make myself take that first step. I'm sick of wasting away my life, I don't want to open my eyes tomorrow and be 40...

I've been told to just dive headfirst into whatever I'm having trouble with, but I get scared of doing it because I think I'll mess it up. I have a severe lack of confidence in myself and I think this is the root of all my problems. My Moms life isn't in the best shape right now and I'm trying to help her and an easy excuse I use is: "Well, if I spend the money or time to do X, then I might not be able to help my Mom in case Y happens."

I don't know what can be said to help me, maybe somebody will have something. For what it's worth, thanks liv--help / advice forum.

Regicid3 on

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    X5X5 Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    It's possible you have an anxiety disorder. Short of saying "Just go for it!! YAY!!" I'd suggest possibly seeing a therapist if you feel this overwhelmed about this many aspects of your life.

    Other than that, Set attainable goals, and then go after them. Don't just pic up a progamming book and expect to be a pro once finished. Put it into practical application. Use what you learn on your own time to perhaps make a nifty personal website, or a plugin for a portal software you might use.

    Hope you can relax soon dude :)

    X5 on
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    durandal4532durandal4532 Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    I can't speak to the entirety of your anxiety, for that I really do suggest you see a therapist if you're able.

    For programming, I also had a pretty severe lack of confidence. I was learning Java in a group of kids who not only knew C++, but had learned it for fun together. One of them did his assignments in Java first, and then mirrored them on his TI-83 for fun. So basically, I got C-'s in that course, and came out thinking I was an idiot. Something that has made me feel much much better about my ability, though, is simply asking for help. A lot of it, sometimes. I know people who know how to program better than I do, who remember the syntax better than I do. I used to be afraid to ask them for help because it would mean that I didn't really know what I was doing. This past semester, I've asked my roommate for help on my C assignments, and realized that not only does my work go faster, but I actually remember more of what I did and why.

    That might not be super useful for very beginning programming, though. For that I recommend you do a few things. Do that "Hello World" thing that all tutorials start with, but don't follow the book and try to keep up. I generally found myself lost after a couple of chapters. What really helps is just playing around with what you can do. Make a text adventure, get used to what does and does not compile. A lot of reasonably interesting programs can consist of nothing but "If" "else" and "print". Don't feel tied to the tutorial's pace, think of it as something you can consult when you want to do something more, but can't figure out what it requires. I actually find that in a lot of cases, consulting an API is actually more understandable, as it's simply a list of all commands and what they do, so I look for the one that is most like "compare this thing to that thing and tell me which is bigger" or whatever it is I want to do. The important part is to allow yourself to feel around a bit, not to force yourself into a schedule of barely understanding one part and then leaping to the next.

    Also, it helps me to use a very very low overhead editor/compiler combo. I use Notepad++ and GCC, which means that I basically type a text file with some highlighting, and then give a command in the command prompt to compile. It's easier to use for very small programs than the bloated stuff designed around larger projects.

    Most of all, compare yourself to yourself. Someone will always be outperforming you. Someone is always doing better than you are. The point of programming, of learning the keyboard, is to improve yourself. If you've done anything at all, you've done well.

    durandal4532 on
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    Corrosive MonkeyCorrosive Monkey Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    This might not be available to you, but try taking a class in the language you want. I used to have your troubles of not being able to do it off of a tutorial site. But then I started the computing class at my college, and being taught it simply and having people who understand it really helps, also now I can easily use the tutorial sites, because I have a basic understanding of what is going on.

    Corrosive Monkey on
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    CasketCasket __BANNED USERS regular
    edited November 2007
    Are you a computer science major? If so you will eventually get over that feeling of being overwhelmed, since computer science is all about dealing with complexity. Eventually you can tackle every problem like a computer science problem and break it down into parts.

    I know I felt overwhelmed when we first started writing our own operating system.

    Casket on
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    DrFrylockDrFrylock Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    You cannot learn programming from an online tutorial. The truth is that all online tutorials about programming suck. They are time-wasting exercises for the people that create them, and they are not useful for beginners. What they are occasionally useful for is for someone that is already well-versed in a half-dozen programming languages and needs to pick up the nuances of a new one.

    You can learn to program from a good book. These are big expensive books. They cost about $50 each and they're between 500 and 1000 pages, usually. It helps very much if you have a realistic target application that you want to develop. If you bite off too much, you will get discouraged easily. Because software is so malleable, it's very easy to conceive of a project that is simply too big to handle. Try to start very small, with even smaller incremental quanta of achievement.

    In days of yore, you could write some nifty software in an interpreted language like BASIC that was relatively easy to experiment with and debug. Back then, you didn't have to learn anything beyond basic control constructs, variables, conditionals, and maybe functions. Nowadays, to write anything of substance is a lot more difficult.

    A good place to start is in the Web world, believe it or not. Javascript and PHP are fine languages to learn basic programming skills on, and you get the user interface (the browser) for free. You can see your results right away. Web applications are more difficult to debug than, say, Java applications, but alert() will get you far.

    You are right that becoming a competent programmer is a long journey, just like learning to play an instrument. For someone who's never done it before, it requires new and unnatural mental disciplines to be developed. You will learn to be able to visualize complex control and data flows in your head. In learning to debug software, you will learn diagnostic strategies that are also used in medicine and other engineering disciplines.

    If you're paralyzingly afraid of failure, then you will never attain skill in anything complex. Programming is a great thing to learn because the cost of failure is so low. You add some print statements, recompile, and re-run your program. Contrast that with a failure in Electrical Engineering, where a mistake can fry your parts and then you have to go buy new ones, or worse, order them and wait a week to get a chance to try again. Or a failure in medicine, which is generally even worse than that :)

    The difference between a great programmer and a merely adequate one is their number of failures. A great programmer will have failed 100 times as much.

    This is not to say that these little failures aren't disappointing, especially at first. Over time, you'll build up a level of stoicism. Keep reminding yourself that 1) in general, computers are dumb, deterministic machines; 2) all programming problems are solvable given enough time, insight, and effort, and 3) every time you understand why a given change solved a given problem, you're learning something important.

    Keep at it, and good luck.

    DrFrylock on
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    NimaNima Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    I have anxiety disorders, and I'm very familiar with the feelings you describe. So I sort of second the advice to see a therapist experienced in such areas if you possibly can - anxiety disorders have this way of getting worse and worse if left undiagnosed until they mess up your life.

    This seems to me like a case of very black and white thinking.
    You see any given topic as a horrible, overwhelmning jumble of things you don't know yet, and the enormity of what you *don't* know scares you off.
    It's sort of like, of you don't know all of it at the start, then you can't see a way to know *any* of it, which is the stupidity of black and white thinking/ catastrophising.

    What I would suggest, and what my psychologist has told me, is to simply start stuff. Without worrying about what I do, or don't know. Simply organise your desk with the correct study materials, sit down, and start. Take it in 10 minute chunks to avoid the overwhelming feelings rushing up on you. Anyone can study for 10 minutes, right? And once you've done that, chances are you can do 20, and so on.

    Nima on
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    Regicid3Regicid3 Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    About seeing a therapist... I don't think that's something I could do. I don't like the idea of going somewhere and talking to somebody about my problems. I can't really do that with anyone. I always feel like a complete douche bag every time I try to express myself. I'm really bad at explaining myself clearly and usually stumble over all of my words and contradict myself.

    About programming... I'm 19 now, going on 20 in February and I feel like I've wasted so much time by not trying online tutorials. Most great programmers have started so young and I've had this as my goal since I was 16 and I just blew away the time: "Yeah, when I'm in college." Well now I'll be starting in January, but I feel it's already too late. Some said to try with easier languages, wouldn't I want to avoid getting into habits in say... Java? That may be bad for me in C++?

    Regicid3 on
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    MKRMKR Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    Regicid3 wrote: »
    About seeing a therapist... I don't think that's something I could do. I don't like the idea of going somewhere and talking to somebody about my problems. I can't really do that with anyone. I always feel like a complete douche bag every time I try to express myself. I'm really bad at explaining myself clearly and usually stumble over all of my words and contradict myself.

    You're doing that right now, and are doing fine.

    MKR on
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    dvshermandvsherman Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    Regicid3 wrote: »
    About seeing a therapist... I don't think that's something I could do. I don't like the idea of going somewhere and talking to somebody about my problems. I can't really do that with anyone. I always feel like a complete douche bag every time I try to express myself. I'm really bad at explaining myself clearly and usually stumble over all of my words and contradict myself.

    About programming... I'm 19 now, going on 20 in February and I feel like I've wasted so much time by not trying online tutorials. Most great programmers have started so young and I've had this as my goal since I was 16 and I just blew away the time: "Yeah, when I'm in college." Well now I'll be starting in January, but I feel it's already too late. Some said to try with easier languages, wouldn't I want to avoid getting into habits in say... Java? That may be bad for me in C++?

    While I'm not interested in programming, or keyboarding, and cannot talk directly about those subjects, I have gone through being highly overwhelmed. If I don't guard myself, I easily become so overwhelmed that I can barely comprehend being able to get the simplest things done (e.g. getting out of bed). However, I have managed to overcome this and accomplish a lot of things that take a great deal of time and energy to learn.

    My advice might be super cheesy, but it works for me. I live in day-tight compartments. I don't allow myself to get caught up thinking about how much time I have wasted not doing the things I want to or should have done. I don't allow myself to get caught up thinking about everything that lay ahead of me. I know that if I live every day to the best of my ability, then soon enough, I will have a long string of bright yesterdays to give me hope that tomorrow will also be great.

    It's not too late for anything you might want to do in life. Stop looking at what everyone else has done. Did a lot of the greats start extremely early in life? You said they did. Will you be starting later than tnem? You said you will. But at 19 or 20, are you going to let that stand in the way of doing what you want to do with your life? Don't create reasons why you will fail that likely will not matter in the end. You'll just end up a walking dead man.

    There are a couple of things you want to learn that will take a great deal of time and energy to master. That is what makes them worthwhile. I watched my brother learn to play bass guitar. He hemmed and hawed about it a long time before he committed himself to it. He sucked for a long time after he finally bought his first bass. But he didn't give up. He practiced every day, started taking lessons after he could afford them. After a couple of years his teacher told him he couldn't take lessons from him any more because the teacher had nothing left to teach. My brother, through small steps taking consistently every day, became a great bass player.

    There's a quote I love to remember when I'm balking at a large, months long task. Thomas Carlyle said, "Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance,but to do what lies clearly at hand." Figure out what you can do each day to work toward your goal, then concentrate on that one thing. Pile enough of those small steps up, and you will reach your goal of becoming a programmer and a keyboardist.

    Good luck!


    tl;dr Live one day at a time. Figure out steps you can accomplish in one day that will help you build toward your goal. Don't give up. Especially before you even start.

    dvsherman on
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    Regicid3Regicid3 Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    MKR wrote: »
    Regicid3 wrote: »
    About seeing a therapist... I don't think that's something I could do. I don't like the idea of going somewhere and talking to somebody about my problems. I can't really do that with anyone. I always feel like a complete douche bag every time I try to express myself. I'm really bad at explaining myself clearly and usually stumble over all of my words and contradict myself.

    You're doing that right now, and are doing fine.

    Anonymity.

    That's something I really got to try, dvsherman. That is my biggest problem. I think too much about what lies in the future and forgot what is in front of me now. Thanks. :)

    Regicid3 on
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    Blake TBlake T Do you have enemies then? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    I learnt a long time ago that people that get things done don't bother about making excuses about why they should worry about something going wrong. People that get things done only worry about doing the job.

    Really it's too damm bad that you don't feel comftable talking to someone about your problems. The most fun you can have in life is stepping outside your comfort zone and confronting the unknown.

    Blake T on
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    dvshermandvsherman Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    Regicid3 wrote: »
    MKR wrote: »
    Regicid3 wrote: »
    About seeing a therapist... I don't think that's something I could do. I don't like the idea of going somewhere and talking to somebody about my problems. I can't really do that with anyone. I always feel like a complete douche bag every time I try to express myself. I'm really bad at explaining myself clearly and usually stumble over all of my words and contradict myself.

    You're doing that right now, and are doing fine.

    Anonymity.

    That's something I really got to try, dvsherman. That is my biggest problem. I think too much about what lies in the future and forgot what is in front of me now. Thanks. :)

    Well, I'm glad I could help. :D Just make sure you give it an honest go. It's hard to pick it up and do it consistently. But if you b0rk a day, forget about it and move on. You're not worrying about yesterday. It's done. Just make sure you do your best today.

    dvsherman on
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    CreepyCreepy Tucson, AzRegistered User regular
    edited November 2007
    Blaket wrote: »
    The most fun you can have in life is stepping outside your comfort zone and confronting the unknown.

    You can learn a fuck of a lot when you're outside your comfort zone.

    Lots of things are overwhelming at first, hell, a lot of VIDEO GAMES are and they're just goddamned games. Once you get a handle on them they're fun though, right? Same applies to almost anything you're truly interested in.

    Like Casket said, break it down into parts and then attack the parts one by one. Eventually that will become second nature.

    Like Frylock said, don't be afraid to fail. You can learn a lot from failing, too.

    Creepy on
    Live: Broichan

    PSN: Broichan
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    GihgehlsGihgehls Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    Not only can you learn from failure, I think you should absolutely revel in it. If you don't enjoy failing at the thing you want to do, it probably isn't for you. I know that sounds weird, but I'll try to explain.

    I will use fire poi as an example. If you don't know what it is, just search youtube, but basically it is twirling FIRE in front of your FACE. I'd always seen these guys doing their fire poi thing and I was so insanely jealous. So once I found out what I was seeing was actually called, I spent all my downtime at work searching up stuff about it. I actually got more interested in spinning glowsticks as the techniques are mostly the same, and the temperatures are much more comfortable!!!

    At first I just messed around, doing extremely simple moves. If I tried anything remotely advanced, I ended up smaking myself in the balls, or in the face, really hard, with a friggin glow stick (those fuckers move fast.) This would have really discouraged me if I wasn't having such a good time just twirling things about. In fact, when I went too long without smacking myself, I realized that I wasn't learning anything anymore, and I took that as my queue to push myself more. This is what I mean by reveling in failure. If you enjoy what you are doing, then the obstacles you encounter turn into little bonuses in a way, in that once you finally nail your task, the failures along the way just make your victory even sweeter.

    As far as programming goes, I would honestly start with straight C, just to get the knack of it. Branch off from there. I guarantee that no matter what language you learn, you will have problems. Problems that could really frustrate you. Everyone has been there before, "why won't this damn thing compile!" or whatever. You will feel dumb when you realize you wasted 20 minutes because of a damn semicolon or compiler path issue. You might want to consider non-PC programming. I learned alot of stuff from programming the Lego Mindstorms sets. They are quite legitimate robot kits and not too expensive either. Once you master flow control and variables with their GUI programming environment (LabView) then you can get C or Java running on it.

    Gihgehls on
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