How loneliness is scaring me away from programming

How loneliness is scaring me away from programming

Jul 10, 2023ยท

8 min read

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For over three weeks, I've been nothing short of useless as a programmer. As days passed, I neglected everything I had to do, giving nonsensical excuses and wasting time doing unnecessary stuff. This version of me was the direct opposite of what I used to be some months ago. I didn't stop to think about what was wrong until yesterday (9th of June, 2023) when I came up with the solid conclusion that I had an issue to resolve: solitude.

The fear I always had

I got into programming in early 2020 (April, to be precise) and haven't looked back since then. I've always been very passionate about it. I would always do something programming related at any chance I got. People who are close to me know it's what I do. There's nothing to hide anyways.

As a beginner, I only had my phone to learn and used it as much as possible. I mean, why not? I was all about programming then; there's no stopping me ๐Ÿ˜Ž.

However, there was a problem, one that I didn't see for what it was. Whenever I was about to start writing code, some weird fear always struck me. I didn't know what caused it and didn't care to. I just hopped into the coding session with the fear plaguing me.

At that time, I was just a high school student, at least for the most part. I had nothing else to spend my time on if I wasn't doing something programming related. There was not much money for data, so I didn't dare stream YouTube unless it was a programming tutorial or some short clip of one of my favourite footballers ๐Ÿ˜‰. Whatever I did then, I had to fall back to my programming; I did enjoy it.

This fear I'm talking about has been there since day one. I just have to think about writing code to make it show up. In those early days, all I said to myself whenever that happened was that it would go away with time. But the surprising thing is, it didn't. It instead intensified.

I wrote an article about how I got into programming. You can check it out here.

The change in situations

I graduated from high school in September 2020, five months after I got into programming, and a lot has happened since then, but I'll focus on the topic of discussion and try to keep things simple.

Fast forward two years and some months later since I got into programming, and it is late 2022. I could afford things I previously couldn't, especially data and Udemy courses. I could stream YouTube as much as I want, a good thing but one which could also be a terrible thing, and in my case, it proved to be more of the latter.

My fear and YouTube

Although it was over two years later, the fear I always had never faded. I wasn't coding with my phone anymore, so it wasn't because of that. It would always appear whenever I thought of opening my laptop to code. But unlike earlier, I had something else to quickly fall back to; YouTube.

Whenever the fear struck too hard, I hopped into YouTube and streamed random videos, comedies, football, and programming videos alike. I did that until I felt like I was very much alive and willing to code. So even if the fear would strike, it wouldn't be that much, and I would quickly get over it.

In less than a month, my YouTube feed which was always full of programming-related content, would now always be filled with videos from diverse topics. I didn't like that, so I cleared my YouTube search and watch history every couple of weeks or so (when the motivation for that struck). I didn't have things under control, but I fooled myself into thinking I did.

As a result, I spent less time programming and more time streaming YouTube. Again, I knew it, but I kept telling myself that things would change with time.

One thing, though, my interest in programming didn't change. What changed was what kept me coding in those early days when there was nothing. (There's still nothing now, but nothing is different from nothing ๐Ÿ˜….)

Switching to Netflix

On the 12th of last month (June 2023), I subscribed to Netflix, something I never thought I would do for any reason. I just woke up that day and thought it would be good to enjoy the results of the hard work I had put into learning and executing in the past.

While I'm unsure if that's a good idea, the outcome wasn't. Here are my Netflix stats after a little over three weeks (roughly calculated):

  • 194 episodes watched

  • 7760 minutes (40 per episode)

  • 129.3 hours

  • 5.39 days

That's about five hours per day, which makes no sense whatsoever. In the past three weeks alone, I've lost some good opportunities just because of this. The following image is a screenshot of the project I worked on for the hashnode-1password hackathon. Based on my schedule, that project was supposed to take me eight days. But what happened? I was streaming Netflix for about four of the eight days I had left to work on it, so that I couldn't complete it on time.

I've also begun another project to be submitted for the AWS Amplify hackathon, but again, for the past three days, I've not written a single line of code, and we're ten days in already.

Some realisations

As I previously mentioned, I like programming and am committed to it. But there are just many factors affecting how things play out. Yesterday, when I started to analyse how much data and time I spent streaming videos on Netflix, I realised something was wrong. Even though I still can code for long hours, say 7/8 straight hours, things have become much more inconsistent. One day, I might spend 10 of the 24 hours in the day working. Another day, I'd spend 0 hours working and all day streaming Netflix.

This became more evident when I left the house in the afternoon (also yesterday) and determined when I came back that I would go straight to continue working on my project, and then got home, only to find myself really unable to do that. I even wanted to force it, but I couldn't. Why? Because my long-standing fear kept showing up with full force, and the lazy part kept pushing me to complete the series I was streaming on Netflix. And yes, I didn't later continue the work on the project and instead continued to watch my downloaded Netflix series.

I later decided yesterday to delete my Netflix account and uninstall the app, which I later did, but not until this morning, after I had completed the series I was watching.

I also tasked myself to discover the cause of the fear, which led me to write this article.

The real problem

My long-standing fear is the cause of my unwillingness (maybe not the right word) to do the necessary work I need to do. But what caused the fear itself?

I've had to deal with fear a couple of times. See the following:

The image above is the screenshot of my analysis while running out of time for the Hashnode-MindsDB hackathon. Even though I wasn't selected as a winner, I could carve something out to submit nonetheless. I found that some fear was holding me back, and I tried my best to eliminate it, splitting it down so I could think about it and then come up with solutions to each. This kind of analysis is a very difficult thing to do, but I like to do them anyway because they really help.

Anyway, that was the exact same thing I did this morning. I tried to analyse this fear I always had whenever I was about to code. As with any problem, the cause of the fear has to be something missing that I need to acquire or something present that I need to eliminate. I thought about it and finally deduced that the issue was not having anyone to discuss things with.

I figured a part of me likes to have people around. My days in high school are my best. The reason for that is the sheer amount of friends I made who I discuss things with, whether academics or football. But with programming, it has always been just me since day one. I didn't have any programmer friends to chat with about stuff. As a result, I felt alone whenever it was time to code, and that fear would strike, making me feel like I'd be stuck should I encounter any problem (even though the internet was always there).

This, I would say, is the major reason for the fear. There might be other things I'm not yet considering, though. I can't say.

Moving forward

Right now, there isn't much I can do about this problem. I'll have to put up with it. Hopefully, I'll find a better way to manage it. For now, I've placed some restrictions on my use of streaming platforms like YouTube, deleted my Netflix account, and set my mind to work harder. For my current hackathon project, though, I don't know where I'm headed concerning it. I might stop working on it, as I'm not in the best state of mind at the moment. On the other hand, I might continue working on it, hoping it doesn't become another wasted effort.

If you've read this far, I really appreciate it. And please, comment below. I want to hear your opinion. Have you been in the same situation? Do you have suggestions for me? Whatever it is, help me see it, and I'm sure to respond.

Thanks for reading.