Staying Motivated When Starting Out

Hello everyone,

I’m super psyched to be here. After being curious for a really long time, I decided to get over my anxiety about coding. My partner and I looked up how to get started, and saw freeCodeCamp recommended in a few places.

I’m having a lot of fun. I’m feeling pretty good about myself right now. I blew through the HTML/CSS modules in about 6 hours today, and I’m tinkering with the projects. So far, nothing has been super tricky for me and it’s good to find something to do with my time that I find engaging.

I’m nervous because I’m really enjoying this, but I historically have had a habit of comparing myself to experts really early on when I’m picking up a new hobby or skill, convincing myself I’m a huge failure, and bailing because I freak myself out.

I’m not really sure how to measure my own success in regards to this kind of thing without comparing myself to others, or staying motivated when you hit hurdles when you’re starting out. I think this is something I have the potential to be good at, but I know in a couple weeks I’ll probably be wondering why I said that.

Sorry to be so nervous/anxious when I’m trying to make a first impression. I figure if I can be genuine up front and get some help with my biggest non-code related barrier to success now, I can focus on the actual work I’m doing as I progress.

Thanks in advance for any advice. Looking forward to being here. :sparkling_heart:


I’m similar in that I aim right for the top of the class when I’ve barely gotten going. Definitely keep the goal of going to the top, but know that you’ll have to iterate on things several times before you get there.


Hello @rileyn,

I hope you are well and I am glad to see that you are enjoying fCC so far. :slight_smile:

After reading your post, I can definitely say I do relate to this.

Years ago, I would compare myself to other students at college and university and as you have described it, I would feel like a failure. Now, as time has gone by, I have learned many things, which may come across blunt to you:

In short

  • Accept that there is going to be one person that is better than you.
  • Lower your expectation on what you plan to achieve.
  • Do small things at turtle pace rather than going for a large hurdle. You could lose focus on what was the point in the first place

A long read

Accept it that there is always going that one person that is better at something than you regardless of what it is. But, keep in mind you are also going to be better than that person at that something else, therefore we all have own strengths in different ways,

So, instead of feeling like a failure, you can:

  • learn from them
  • Find what is your weakness and work on it to improve it

But, also another lesson I have learned is to lower as much as you can your expectation. That does the trick for me big time.

So, say for example, if I see a web designer/developer’s amazing work somewhere, rather than looking at every single thing that they have created so amazingly, set yourself a super small task to build one feature from that site and tweak it around to make it your own. Like myself, today I aim to build an animated navbar and main heading. That’s it, nothing else. When you have managed to create that small feature, consider this to be a step forward in your learning journey.

This is how you learn and “better” yourself. However, just remember we will always be learning non-stop!

Hope this helps and I wish you the best of luck
(sorry for the long post)


This is something that happens to everyone, its the usual imposture syndrome. Don’t let it get to you because it really just boils down to exactly what you said “you freaking yourself out”.

I like to compare it to something else that is pretty crazy, but no one really things about. Its the fact your on a super tiny rock flying thru the expansiveness of space billions of light years in size.
In the same vein, your just a single human learning stuff that has been built up over lifetimes of other peoples work. It seems like a lot of stuff to learn, that it just seems impossible but you just realized and can comprehend how big it is, and in that sense you are “bigger” then all that knowledge because you can understand how big it actually is.

The goal isn’t to be able to wrap everything you need to learn into your mind via memorization or being able to never make mistakes, or being able to always write perfect code. Rather the goal is to be able to work out of mistakes you make, and be able to fix the bugs you find. This all might take time, effort and grit, but that is what makes a developer a developer.

Things will get harder, more tricky, more in depth and more complex. If it didn’t you probably aren’t learning anything worth wild. This fact never changes. You could have 1 month of experience or 1 decade, there will always be more things to learn.

You will make mistakes, you will get stuck, you will struggle, and you will want to quit, the only thing you need to do is stick with it, and you will figure it out after a while. The only way you “don’t” do it is if you quit. There are no walls, rules, or laws of physics preventing you from learning what you need to know. There is just the content, time, and your own effort. Don’t be afraid of failure, embrace it. Failing means you have an opportunity to learn something new. Fail 500 times and learn 500 new things.

Finally I hope you stick with FCC. Its easy to just stop doing it because its rough, or you get stuck, but just understand there will always be those moments, its just up to you to find a way out of it and get better from those situations.

Good luck! Keep building! :smile:


Find a buddy, be it someone new or someone you know, or better yet find a cohort. There are resources like meet up, Chingu, and Gitter…etc to find people that are walking the same path.

One thing I learned from my bootcamp experience is that while the technical cramming was valuable, the camaraderie was what really galvanized me to stay on track and continued to move forward. It really helped to have like-minded people with similar goals around you to converse and discuss the subjects, your insecurities and your career goals…etc. It helped to normalize the experience and not put this whole thing on such a pedestal.

You don’t necessarily have to meet these people face to face, although I personally think it helps you commit and communicate better when you meet and talk to people face to face. Sometimes, you may even be lucky enough to find a mentor.

It takes a certain level of mental fortitude and displine to do this by yourself and stay motivated and on track. There are going to be good days and bad days. Having a friend along the way can make the bad days less bad and good day more plentiful.