Article

How I Taught Myself How To Code When I Was Only 14

This article describes Jason Beh’s journey in learning how to code, from a very young age of 14.

The art of coding has always been scary but cool at the same time to the general norm of society. Often times, when people think that you can code, they somehow think that you are a genius. Especially when you told them that you learned it all by yourself without a teacher.

The buzz of people’s perception of you being a genius is usually strong enough to predicate the establishment of your ego or pride, which is something that isn’t very useful when it evolves to snobbishness and over-confidence.


Mastery

Mastery Is Hard.

Learning To Code Is Easy, But Mastering It Is Hard. 😰

The statement above might be surreal to most people, but I find it very true. Throughout my 3 years of mentoring people to learn to code, I have found that your coding skills are like a muscle. If you consistently practice it deliberately throughout your time, you can only get better at it.

Starting is easy. Finishing is hard. - Jason Calacanis

Even for me, I haven’t even gotten close to mastering the art of coding. There’s so much spectrum to the subject itself and the fact that it keeps evolving all the time always excites me to dive deeper to learn more and more.

Think about it. For example, I am sort of quite familiar in web development with technologies such as HTML, CSS, Javascript, Node.js, React, Gulp. However, there is a whole lot more of technology that I haven’t even touch before, such as Vue.js, Ember.js, Polymer and more. 🤩

Nonetheless, I urge everyone to try learning to code, particularly young children or people who don’t know what their passion is. Coding is of course not for everyone, but it is worth a try to see if you really like it. Below is my story of how I actually started and never stopped since. 🚀


My Coding Journey

My Journey to Code Begins With A Single Step

My Story of How I Started To Code 💻

During the end of 2015, I was 13 years old at that time. I invest a lot of time playing video games such as Maplestory and Minecraft at that time. Truth to be told, I was happy playing video games as a kid back then. 🎮

On one fine day, my sister said one thing to me after coming back from work and that sentence sparked a curiosity in me.

‘Since you play so much of video games, why not you try to learn to code? Maybe you will like it. If u don’t like it, just quit.’ - My sister

After hearing that without thinking of the ‘how’, I actually got super pumped up to learn to code. At first, I went to Codecademy to try HTML & CSS, and I absolutely didn’t stop there. I fell in love with it and I discovered my passion. I took each problem that they present to me as an opportunity to learn another aspect of coding.

Slowly by slowly, I accumulated my coding knowledge by finishing the courses in Codecademy, notably HTML, CSS, Javascript, Python, and Ruby. Back then, Codecademy was completely free and it only had very little courses.

Now, after having the basic knowledge of coding and the slight sneak peek of it, I was ready to build something that I can show to the world. Conventionally, people like to start off with a mobile app or website, because it is convenient to show to non-techie. Imagine showing your non-techie friends a Python script, they will get freaked out for sure! 😱

My Coding Journey

My End Goal: A Website

The end goal of building a presentable website then got stuck onto me. Initially, it was super difficult, because I really didn’t have any mentors and responsive design was nerve-wracking to me. There were many times where I really wanna give up, but I kept telling myself to try it one more day.

I failed many times in understanding the typical HTML & CSS elements and their usages. There were just so many things that I can’t comprehend at that time. Divs, absolute positioning, image widths, linear-gradient, prefixing, inline-blocks and many more.

Was I considered dumb to not understand all these at once? I don’t think so, because coding is a learning process, not an overnight success. 🚩

Eventually, after 1 month of experimenting daily and not giving up, I have built my first portfolio website using the Material Design Framework. The best part of it is that it is also mobile responsive. Unfortunately, it is no longer available as a website on the Internet, because I have revamped my website. Check out my website here.


Google Helps A Lot In Coding

Everyone loves Google.

Google Is Your Best Friend. 😇

Honestly speaking, sometimes I think that the ability to google things properly is a crucial skill to have if you want to learn to code. This is because, when you learn to code, you will make mistakes and crash on brick walls. The best way to deal with this is to be as resourceful as possible, which means Googling the heck out of everything.

Of course, you could also ask your mentor or teacher if you have one. But if you want to self teach yourself to learn how to code, you must expect to use a lot of using the world’s most famous search engine, Google.

But don’t worry, most people nowadays who knows how to use the Internet won’t have this problem at all.


Closing Thoughts 🤔

I believe anyone can try to learn to code. With our current era of Internet dominance, you and I can already get our hands dirty by going to websites like Codecademy, Youtube, Hour of Code, Udacity, Treehouse or even Medium.com.

Who knows if you discovered your lifelong passion like me? It takes just a ‘yes’ and some effort to really give it a shot.