Back On The Track

- and some thoughts about self-taught learning.


The period of 6 months between April and October 2016 is a low point for me. I've spent a lot of time playing games on smartphone and watching live gaming show which is getting furious in China now. It's not that I prefer to do these actually, but I have no idea what to do and what to achieve because I'm lost, lost in a way to where I'm going to indeed... Then the feeling of anxiety and confusing paralyzed me and made me escaped from facing the truth.

After an exam which let us entering a college from junior college(专升本考试), I decided to learn iOS programming and become a coder in the years ahead, then work for an Internet company as a iOS Engineer. To be honest, for me, it's a little rough to learn to program efficiently, especially I'm just like a math idiot that never confront the math after graduated from junior high school due to missed out the senior high school. But there are three main problems in the process of learning: The first one is that I don't have a specific goal or project to achieve, just followed tutorials and built some demo but don't understand how to handle with a real product. Another problem is that I can't (or I don't) ask someone directly when I met some problem in coding. In general, I will find the answer on Google and StackOverflow, but sometimes there may have some non-technical issues like a bug from Xcode or something that just a few people encountered before. So it may hard to find the answer on the Internet, it's exhausted when I was spending a whole morning to find a reply, this is really discouraged for a beginner in learning any skills. The last one (most important part) is that I have never stopped to distrust myself, I thought that I’m not in computer-related major and lack of fundamental knowledge in programming, and these negative feelings often came up when I was spending tons of time but cannot handle an issue. This kind of self-doubt feeling was frustrated, and I'm lost in it finally(stopped coding for about five months).

A notification mail shows a guy replied to my comment.

Last month(Oct 10th, 2016), I received an email shows a response to my comment which left there one year ago on a iOS programming tutorial website, I shared my solution for a Challenge on comment area, and he replied to me that he has a better solution. I was shocked at the moment received this mail, I'm a guy had a lot of passion in coding and sharing my knowledge before, but now...

This feeling just like a slap on my face, it's so shame that I have shrunk back from difficulties.

Self-taught learning is never easy. You don't have some external pressure from traditional education and lack of feedbacks from a mentor. In this way, it's easy to lose if your goals are not clear, just like me. This is why only a few people will be a self-taught master.

Make sure be concerned with the following point in your self-taught learning process:

Fortunately, I finally racked my brain and then came up with a career goal to pursue recently. When I switched from confusion to having a clear goal, I found that I'm not wondering about to do something anymore, but thinking what is not that important for me at this time (don't do them and save times for your goals). 

This article was originally posted on my blog, feel free to visit it.