sometimes you may wonder if youre really “cut out” for computer science, or programming, or computers. perhaps you think youre “only good enough” for some things but not others, and for the moment that might be true.
at least some things are really as hard as they look: i doubt i will ever understand encryption on a level that allows me to contribute to the field. but its interesting! so i try to understand at least the basic concepts.
the good news is, not having a phd-level understanding of encryption wouldnt stop me from entering the computer science field. and its worth mentioning that although i enjoy numbers when paired with computers– i really dont looooove math. encryption is heavily a math thing, so i dont think i have enough interest to fully grok encryption.
but i do have options, and mostly im interested in solving computer literacy– not just applications use, but really understanding the essence of computing as well as the reading and writing of code. thats what i care about, so thats what im cut out for. (maybe.)
what im trying to say, is that there isnt necessarily much point in dedicating yourself to something you dont love. if you love something– that matters. if you love something, and dedicate yourself to it, maybe thats what youre really cut out for.
and if you love computers, you should keep going with that. i think people get discouraged by the idea that some people make it look so effortless… its never effortless!
if someone looks at hundreds of lines of code i wrote, they dont know that its the longest code ive ever written. they cant imagine the times ive struggled to grasp concepts that were foreign to me. they dont know that it wasnt all easy, or the amount of criticism ive endured from people who needed to put my efforts down to feel better about their own.
ok, i admit this: i did start young. i did find “hello world” to be magical and easy to follow. my first year of coding was a piece of cake. but so what? my first year of coding was stuff like 10 color something, 20 print something, 30 goto 20! ive seen lots of people who never coded before do more in the first 2 weeks than i did in the first year!
i just kept doing it because i loved it. and if i didnt love it, if it wasnt interesting, i wouldve done something else with the years ive spent learning. but that doesnt mean it was easy.
im not a “natural” and im not cut out for computer science, because no one is. people who work really hard are more cut out for it than i am. people who are good at math are more cut out than i am. but lots of people that are good at math are also “terrible” coders. there are simply no guarantees.
its simply not about being cut out for anything, its about what you love. if you love computers, if youre interested in computers, follow that. if theyre difficult, that doesnt mean anything at all. if youre struggling, you must care enough to do what youve done so far. if something gets easier, you probably worked to get to the point where it was easier.
i grew up watching a lot of science shows on television, utterly fascinated with everything that happened in a lab: electronics, computers, chemistry, robotics, engineering, physics– anything that involved exploring the future.
the funny thing about computers: ive never heard any other branch of science talked about so often in terms of whether people are cut out for it or not. when i was a kid, they wanted everyone to be interested in science– anyone who could possibly be exposed to the wonders of nature and the universe.
why isnt it more like that for computers? people i talk to often act like a computer is just some machine that gets them somewhere, like a car goes to the grocery store. and yet you dont have to become a physicist or a phd to wonder why the sky is blue… so why dont people wonder more about computers?
personally, i think its because theres more money to be made from people wondering why the sky is blue (or other science questions) than there is from people not wondering. on the other hand, there is more money to be made from people thinking the computer is just some kind of electronic butler instead of one of the most amazing scientific tools that our species ever created.
this is a problem that needs to be solved. people should get a sense of wonder from computing, not a sense of dread or incompetence. the computer still has a cultural stigma, but the stigma has shifted from the person who loves it to the subject itself! yet what better push is there for science and future scientists than a sense of wonder? what better push is there for computer science than a sense of its pure potential?
but then again, youre just not cut out for computer science. no one else really is, either. if you have an interest in computers, or a love of some part of the computer field– follow it. you will most likely find something worth doing.
more to the point, who should be participating in computer science? absolutely everyone. although some have forgotten the importance, its still the future– and everyone benefits if everyone is encouraged to participate.
we have to stop making it about who is cut out, and follow the example of quality science programming: give everyone we possibly can that sense of wonder. dont just teach people computer science: share your love of computing (yes– you too!) thats what we really need to move forward from here.
- license: creative commons cc0 1.0 (public domain)