Myth 1: “Coding isn’t creative.”
Before I started coding, I always imagined that a day in the life of a programmer must be unbearably dull. The idea of working with algorithms sounded like actual torture. Math class? The bane of my existence. And the idea of computer programming — managing algorithms all day, typing data into a cold, bright screen — was my personal idea of hell.
Good news for all you humanities nerds and creative brained friends— we’ve been lied to.Just like writing isn’t just grammar, coding isn’t just algorithms. It’s also problem solving, design, writing, and collaborating with others — which is why it’s perfect for creative brains.Of course, there are more mundane, less-creative aspects of coding, just like there are mundane, less-creative aspects of any field. At its core, however, coding is essentially design meets problem-solving — which, for creatively-inclined people, can be super fun.
Myth 2. “You have to be good at math to be a good programmer.”
Until recently, I believed math and coding to be intertwined so intensely that you had to excel at one to be proficient at the other.
I’ve never been happier to be wrong.
To be clear: it definitely can’t hurt to be good at math. And, if you’re getting a Computer Science degree, Calculus is usually a required course.
That said, the underlying connection between math and computer science isn’t just numbers: it’s problem-solving. Both fields, at their core, revolve around understanding and recognizing patterns, and effectively using complex logic. Of course, programmers work with algorithms, but at its foundation, algorithms are solutions to logic problems.
Good code starts with good design. Your ability to problem-solve — to effectively use logic — is much more important than your ability to do math.
Bottom line: if you’re not good at math, there’s still a good chance you’ll be an awesome programmer.
Myth 3. “Coding isn’t social.”
I always thought of programmers as solitary creatures. Hunched over a laptop (or multiple desktop monitors), working late into the evening, surrounded by gadgets, coffee, and a looming, ever-present sense of dread.
(Actually, now that I’m writing this, this was exactly what I looked like throughout grad school. Am I projecting? Possibly.)
Coding is inherently collaborative. Programming languages (like Python) are designed with group work in mind. For example, functions allow programmers to break large projects into smaller tasks for each group member can complete. Coding newbies are encouraged from the start to write concise, clear comments with their code, to allow others to read and work with it.
From Stack Overflow and other collaborative online resources created by programmers for programmers, to the incredible tech community on Twitter, there is a wealth of opportunities for coders to connect, ask questions, and provide support to one another.
Side note: The tech community on Twitter is the most wholesome, supportive community I’ve found in my seven years using the platform. It’s a great space to ask questions, connect with other code novices, or participate in coding challenges. 10/10 would recommend.
Myth 4. “You have to start coding when you’re young.”
Lies and slander.
Sure, it helps to start coding young — just like it helps to start learning French, or the piano, or any other skill, at a young age. But if you didn’t learn to code in utero, or in preschool, or even in college, don’t worry — there’s no age limit to learning to code.
If you’re interested in learning to code, but think that you might be “too old”, there is a wealth of resources available to inspire, motivate, and guide you on your journey. Check out motivational pieces like this one, or this Code Newbie podcast episode on the benefits of learning to code when you’re older, or this article from Columbia Engineering, which provides a great introduction (with resources) for getting started on your coding journey.
Myth 5. “You have to be in Mensa to code.”
Thank GOD this isn’t true.
You don’t need to have a stellar IQ, or an exceptional logical ability, or even a background in STEM, to start coding. Of course, these things always *help* — but if you’re like me, and are willing to put in the effort to learn, you will make progress.
By the way: if you want to learn what not to do when learning to code, check out my article on the mistakes I made in my first coding class.
If you’re interested in starting to learn to code, I highly recommend starting with resources like the w3schools website, or Codecademy. These are free resources that teach you to code from the ground up, and are great for people with no previous coding experience.
Now, get yourself a coffee, get started, and have a good time coding!