Everything is 20/20 in Hindsight

I know that you hear this phrase a lot. So often, that you might kind of disregard it and not really comprehend it. I’ve spent a lot of time lately looking back on my experience as a developer starting in 7th grade and not really flourishing until recently.

Or at least it feels that way. I look back and think what an idiot I was. Why would I write code like that? It’s just terrible. And this is code that is only 3 months old. What seems so clear as the proper way to do things now wasn’t something I understood then.

I remember that in 7th grade when I tried to teach myself programming for the first time, I didn’t realize that you were supposed to reuse variables. I would just create a new variable for every single value I needed to store. Boy does that seem stupid looking back.

But it wasn’t at the time. I didn’t know, and I didn’t really care. I was learning things the hard way, and when I was introduced to the concept that you could just trash the data in a variable when you were done it was one of those moments where it blows your mind. That’s when you really know it.

A lot of people similar in age who have only learned programming through school and books aren’t confident and frankly can’t accomplish the same things. The people who are remembered and rewarded are those that do things. They may or may not good, but you need to finish enough so that you have something to show.

Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of things you can learn by reading, but I’m not sure you can say you fully understand them if you haven’t tried them in practice many times. Doing is a completely different beast. At some point in the last year I picked up on Hacker News. I can’t count how many hours I’ve spent reading article after article absorbing everything I could. I’m aware of many more ideas and concepts than ever before, but I was simply aware of them until now.

At this very moment I’m working on a startup of my own. I’m doing the same things I read about so many times before and only now does it seem truly obvious that what I read was correct. If you think “that makes sense” then you don’t get it yet. You truly know what you’re doing when it seems like the only logical choice.

If you’re reading this thinking “that makes sense” you need to quit and get to work.

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