Paralysis from a fear of failure / impostor syndrome

Hey there. I am from Malaysia and I have grand dreams of being able to make a living doing freelance developer work, moving out of his country and travelling the world.

I came across this website and every time I try to study I get these nagging worries - worries that I would spend 300 hours or more studying everything, only to not get a job.

I am 34 years old now, and never in my life that I have really accomplished anything great. I still live with my mother, I am not married, I don’t have my own car, I live very frugally, etc, etc.

Every time I look at others I am filled with a great sense of envy and humbleness. I see people younger than me who have accumulated much more money, who get married, who seemed to just cruise through getting a cozy developer job in their early 20s.

It’s like I am Rocky in the third movie now, where he is just plagued by a combination of his post-prime years, sadness from Mickey’s death, fright of going toe-to-toe with Clubber Lang, that he just…stopped training with Apollo and becomes paralyzed as he just stares at the beach standing there.

I suppose I just lost the Eye of the Tiger now. I recall I was very enthusiastic about the future as a kid, but now, failure after failure after failure right to my mid-30s I feel like it’s too late to even try anymore.

How do I assuage these fears that I will never get a freelance job or a full-time job even after studying through all the materials here in Freecodecamp? Or in general, how do you guys deal with the fear that it’s too late for you, that you are just going to fail anyway, as you get older?

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What’s the alternative? You can work your ass off and 3 years from now you can be a 37 year old with 3 years of experience in software development. Or you can be a 37 year old loser with no money and no future, who still lives with his mother.

These 3 years will pass no matter what. These 300 hours of free time that you value so much that you don’t want to spend them working your butt off and becoming a better version of yourself as a result… These 300 hours will pass no matter what. Oh and btw, spoiler alert - you won’t become a developer in 300 hours. It takes much longer than that. It will take a lot of frustration and a lot of hard work to get there. Are you up for that? Chasing guilty pleasures is attractive and easy, that’s why procrastination is so damn popular :stuck_out_tongue:

Stop comparing yourself to others. Compare present version of yourself to who you were yesterday, that’s how you can keep going, keep learning and improve your life . Envy leads to misery and anger. Neither of these will do you any good. They’re the reason you’ve written this post, making excuses and feeling sorry for yourself instead of doing what needs to be done.

As for getting older - if you start eating right, get in shape and work out regularly it’ll be a while before you can start using age as an excuse :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: Can you become a genius SWE who makes or breaks companies and climbs to the top of the world? Probably not. But you can learn a few things, become quite skilled and make a comfortable living solving problems and providing value. That will require getting off your a$$ and stop feeling sorry for yourself. You up for that, champ?

Oh and btw, don’t put your name in the same sentence as Rocky. He went 15 rounds with Creed, dude, you got nothing on him.


Hi, zcomet.

You have a great Dream, when this worries come think that this is just a step to get your goals.
Never is late to star over.

Everyone have struggle in life as you said that you have, I know if you believe in yourself and work hart you get the future that you want.

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You only loose if you give up on your dreams. Don’t give up, if you put in the work becoming a software developer is very achievable.
There are people much older than you switching career’s everyday


I feel for you cometz. I’m in a similar situation and understand where you are coming from. I’ve also thought, is this a waste of time?

I think Nick hit the high points so I’ll just add my two cents.

The goal of business is to provide value. Programming provides an opportunity to practice so many hard skills that provide value. You learn problem recognition, creating and adapting algorithms to solve problems, creating solutions with tools(languages), recognizing and debugging issues in your algorithms, creating clarity in your solution and making sure that everything is typographically correct. That is the value proposition. By going through this and other courses you’re practicing this method day after day.

So you don’t get the developer job. How do you use the skills you learn here to provide value in the job you’re working in? Recognize a problem or inefficiency and come up with a solution. Hopefully you can use programming and build a portfolio of projects and metrics that you can give to potential employers. If not you make your managers look good and can work your way up, or show what you’ve done to other employers and get hired and work your way up for them.

In conclusion, I’d love to see my future as one where I get to develop software. At some point I may be able to travel the world doing so, but at this time I’m placing a ton more value on the practice of the hard skills mentioned above and learning new ways to implement them. At the very least I’m compounding my value day by day in whatever career I ultimately end up in.

I wish you the best in your journey, and remember, this is a practice. 300 hours learning here is a blip on the radar of the amount of time you’re going to have to spend learning new concepts and new languages once you do get that developer job. Have fun with the early part, it may not feel like it, but these are the good times.

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As Henry Ford quoted,

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”

You can only choose one.