How long until I hit a breakthrough?

I have been studying web development for over 2 and a half years now, and I feel as if I am about to give up.

I cannot say that I haven’t tried. Till this day, I still have not developed a decent portfolio.

I have mini projects and stuff, but I have yet to complete a decent full stack application.

I feel I hit bedrock when I learned HTML, CSS, vanilla JS, procedural PHP, and SQL. I have been trying to pick up frameworks for a long time, both frontend and backend, but I have failed. So many resources I have invested into, but they have not helped much. I feel like once I have learned something, I soon forget.

I feel like I know bits and fragments but cannot piece them together.

I am wanting to create a forum with realtime features and such but feel like I cannot achieve that.

Even my gihub is empty.

My family is pressuring me to get a job. I have been unemployed for 2 years now on disability. I don’t want to work at McDonalds or some place like thay because I feel I have more to offer than that.

You do have a lot to offer, but using a particular type of job or a particular place of employment to establish your worthiness in your own mind could be problematic. Wouldn’t it be better to complete a few projects, even minor ones, that you can be proud of, and establish your sense of self-worth as a programmer (or other kind of worker if it ends up being the case) that way. Continuously use your best work as a baseline for self-evaluation and try to move up from there.


Take notes. Physically writing notes like you are teaching will help you remember much better.

Make projects weather they are bad or good. You can learn from and it you help you almost develop muscle memory for parts of coding.

Making projects is a good way to make notes. You cannot memorize all of those things in your head.

Make sure you have the right tools for the job. HTML was hard for me until I learned frameworks like FlexBox, and it got so much easier. Look for stuff like that and it will greatly improve your coding.

Learn how to take inspiration. Breakdown webpages and code you like into different parts where you can understand what is happening. That fancy nav bar is a bunch of boxes in a row in a way that looks good.

Smaller, cleaner webpages looks better then bigger and more complicated ones. Companies invest millions in stuff just like fonts for a better UI.

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I personally don’t like the idea of “studying” web development. I like the idea of learning through doing.

If you want to build a full stack app, then go out and try to build a full stack app. Get the tools you need to do it, and just start. Learn as you go, run into walls, and fail at every turn because you have no idea what your doing, but you will learn a lot because you have too.

If you want to fill your portfolio, then build something to put in your portfolio. Set some crazy short term goals for projects that should be possible (do it in 3 days), and grind to get to that goal. “Learning” or “studying” gets you and idea of what you can go out and really learn, but unless you use it you lose it right?

It sounds like you already know what things can do (JS, html, css, php, sql) but have you used them together ever? Maybe, maybe not, but probably not enough to be confident in them. As long as you have a rough idea of what tool is used where, you should have enough to go out and learn how to use those tools.

There’s a difference between knowing the path, and walking the path - Morpheus

I don’t believe in breakthroughs. There isn’t some “magical moment” you suddenly ascend to some level where you “do web development stuff”. I believe to get to where you want go you need to pick up your feet and take the steps. You might fall down, and run into issues after issues taking this route. You might get stuck for hours, or days, or even weeks (months?) on issues, but the only way that stops you is you give up.
The hardest steps are the first ones, since you know the least, so deciding that you are “going to build a form with realtime features in 3 months” might seem ridiculous, but again all you have to give (and lose) is time and effort right? Well thats all you need!

Good luck! :smile:

PS. I worked at McDonalds before. You might feel like you have more to offer, and that is very possible, but time is what it comes down to. McDonalds wants your time to work. You want to use that time to “learn”, I say spend that time “doing” as much as you can.


Why is your GitHub empty? Put things like that neat JavaScript quiz you created up there.

Potential employer, “Does this guy know JavaScript…HMMM… No Mr. Quiz guy, I don’t know how long it took to write, guess he knows something about this.”

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There is no magical breakthrough moment. I’m a developer for almost 2 years now. Studied for over a year before it. I was previously an Interior Designer. There are still many things I struggle with - not saying I’m a bad developer, but there is just so much to learn.

Are you doing fcc challenges? I ask because I see you moved to PHP and SQL. I suggest finishing the freeCodeCamp certifications. It’s very gradual and you should be able to pick it up without a problem. You can’t jump into frameworks like React without understanding js algorithms, es6, functional programming, etc, which freeCodeCamp teaches you in order.

An issue I had during freeCodeCamp ‘study’ was that I kept looking for easy way out. Even during my first dev job I skipped the entire React and Redux section of the curriculum. I never needed it at work and I thought other methods were better. I bought hundreds of dollars in video courses. Turns out, all I had to do was go through the challenges and do the projects.

For example - learning git: Do all your projects on github. Use git (at least with a git client), it’s a huge requirement for a job. There shouldn’t be any reason you don’t log your work (even WIP stuff or sample snippets) to git. Even your notes can go on git. Practice makes perfect. If you don’t use it, how can you learn it?

One step at a time. Don’t bother with realtime forum. A forum is a huge application with many parts. Try something like a Github profile page that pulls from github API. Or even simpler like a quote machine or something. The idea is something small, yet it gives your a sense of accomplishment that you can ride on for your next project.

I would go as far as even suggest working part time somewhere while you study. Being broke / out of work sucks. Having income gives a sense of stability to your heart and at least takes away some of your immediate problems.

Use things like #100daysofcode (google this) to keep you accountable. Use a pomodoro clock to maintain work <> break balance.

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Have you thought about focusing on just one part of web development that you like, and partnering with others to do the rest? This might free you up to get really good at one part, instead of getting overwhelmed with all of the different parts. Which part are you most passionate about? Design? Databases? Maybe focusing on just getting strong in your favorite area could help?

Perfection is the enemy of good.

There is no reason for your github to be empty. Everything you’ve done should be in there.

It sounds like you are just down on yourself and what you can accomplish. Have you considered solving a problem that is interesting to you? You mentioned creating a forum. What makes that a problem you want to solve?

IMO, making a “sample” application of any kind is fine, but it won’t offer you that break-through you are looking for. Find something interesting, something personal. It needs to be important to you, not to anyone else. Start simple and straight-forward. No frills, no shiny lights, no really cool tricks. Solve the basic problem. Make fast and robust. Then make it pretty, neat, cool, awesome or whatever.

But start with just solving a problem. Then move on from there.

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