Dealing with the feeling of incompetence in coding

Andrew Pellum
3 min readJun 21, 2021

It doesn’t matter if you are new to coding or if you’re experienced. Everyone has felt like they may be behind at some point. For me, it was as soon as Javascript started. These feelings are normal, and it’s also normal to want validation of these feelings as well as your coding skills.

Here are three ways that you can get over this feeling of incompetence and start your journey to become an experienced software developer!

Validate How You Feel

When you first start learning a new language, you want to test out your skills and show that you are actually learning the material. It takes time and you’re not always going to get it right on the first try. Try talking to peers to see if there was something that helped it click with them. Ask them how the program is going with them or ask how they are understanding the material. This is a valuable tool to see where you stand and to learn new ways to grasp the new language.


Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither were the expansive programs that you will be working for in the future. Google began as an idea called BackRub from one person and has expanded into a gigantic company hiring the best developers. These people didn’t get everything on their first try and neither will you. Practice helps you become familiar with the way a language works, small intricacies, and format setup. Take time to code when you are away from school. Open up the console. Another helpful tool is listen to experts on YouTube. There are so many resources for you to help grasp an idea and to make you feel more comfortable working on your own code.

For me, I had trouble understanding where arguments and parameters come from. Why did it get named this how did you come up with that. My instructor told me that it doesn’t matter what you call it. As long as you call it something you can use it moving forward. When I was coding, I would look at the tests and try to match everything I could to the test, but it doesn’t have to look just like the way the test was created. You have creative flexibility in this world and that should help. *Just make sure that it makes sense to YOU*

My favorite chef does cajun cooking and my favorite part is that he says to use the spices YOU like. In this instance its cajun spices like Tonys or Slap Yo Momma seasoning, but it doesn’t have to be a commercial blend. This same aspect applies to naming parameters and arguments. Yeah some things make sense to name, but it doesn’t have to be the exact blend that someone else uses for it to “taste good”.


const cookingFunction = (“spices”, “ingredients”) => {}

In the example above, I could have named the parameters anything. You can say that we’re putting Leftover Cinnabon in the food as spices. Everything matters in context. Leftover Cinnabon could mean pepper, salt, cayenne etc.

This is why practice is important. You become familiar with how naming arguments and parameters make sense for YOU and your functions will only become better and easier to write.

You Don’t Have to Know Everything

The awesome part of working with computers is that we get to use computers. They are incredible tools and we should take advantage of that. Become great googlers. Search for the right thing in the right place and you will find an answer. Software developers are a really cool group of individuals who aren’t afraid to share their knowledge. They want to help build and they want to teach. We have great resources that can help us achieve a ton and be precise with our code.

This isn’t a math test in third grade. Coding is an open book test. You won’t get in trouble for looking up the correct answer. *We have MDN Web Docs* Make sure that your code is correct. There is too much to remember everything and always be correct. Don’t be afraid to use your resources or ask for help.

Coding is a long journey, but it is so worth it. You become an architect and can create so many awesome things. Don’t let the first doubt stop you from learning and prevent you from building your greatest creations.