Overcoming self doubt

This past summer, a friend took a course to learn HTML and CSS. It was her first venture into the world of code, the web, and building something digital herself.

We are in a Slack together with other friends, so we set up a #codehelp channel to be able to answer questions. It brought up some interesting thoughts, as on many occasions as my friend was working through things, she would have moments of self doubt.

I still have moments of self doubt, over and over again, ten years into building things on the web. Every time I talk with a designer and get a new design that needs to be coded, my first thought is, “How am I ever going to build this?” And, honestly, that feeling is pretty normal for me now.

Sometimes it comes because the designer is challenging me in a good way, sometimes because I’m not feeling confident, and many times because the blank text editor screen in front of me is just as challenging as the blank screen or piece of paper can be for a writer or artist.

But here’s the thing that also came out of helping my friend last summer, it reminded me that I do know things. I successfully explained several different HTML elements and how to best use them. When it came to CSS concepts, I could talk about those as well. It reminded me of how much the web has changed in ten years, how much building things for the web has changed, and how much I take for granted as I sit down to write code; how many things are just there, in my head, that I know.

And the best way out of my moments of self doubt? Sit down and write the code. Open up the editor, start with the things I know, write the basic markup, start adding styles. Every time, by just digging in and not avoiding it, I remind myself of the basics, and I push myself to learn the things I need to know.

No matter how long you’ve been doing what you’ve been doing, especially if you are in the web world, there will always be something to learn. But it’s been good for me to be reminded that I know some things, I have experience, and I can do this, no matter how my self doubt tries to deter me.

This piece originally appeared on The Pastry Box on October 31, 2015.