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Thread: What do you think? Am I on the right path?

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    Question What do you think? Am I on the right path?

    I've been coasting through life over the past seven years since my parents passed. When I graduated from high school, they had a tragic accident which forced me to quickly adapt to life on my own and figure out my way without immediate guidance.

    Since the beginning of my working years, all I've had for experience under my belt is retail. I've worked about thirteen different retail jobs, selling electronics, auto parts, hardware, home improvement products, food, you name it. If Corporate America is near you, I've probably worked in one of its establishments.

    This is not the life for me. I've never wanted to pursue a career in retail, despite superiors telling me this is where I belong (and of course they would). My friends also work retail and don't really have ambitious prospects. They lounge around on days off, indulging in substances and gaming out. Of course, there's nothing wrong with some leisure time, but these guys have absolutely no other hobbies for pastimes. They pride themselves off their gaming abilities.

    Fortunately, I've encouraged one of my close pals to stream and make a YouTube channel so that he may display his skills and hopefully gather a following. Something like that can be monetized if you have the right persona and are appreciated by a following. Most others, however, have nothing else to show for their time invested in their work, other than bickering and ranting about life (which we all have the power to change, wealth gap or not).

    Over the past few years, I've been dreaming more and more. Since my single-digit years, I always wanted to grow toward being an adept programmer, able to concoct brilliant software ideas and have the know-how to churn them out by letting my fingers do the work. I've wanted to know the programming syntax for all languages so well that I don't need to rely on references or forum searches to find the answers to (possibly) complex problems. I took all of the programming classes that my high school offered (HTML, Visual Basic, C++, and Java in CS AP), but I was too young and dumb to appreciate free schooling; I blew it all off, being more concerned with partying and going on dates, than being serious and mastering the books.

    Last year I took a stand and told myself that I don't want to live the life I'm living anymore; that I want to finally pursue my dreams and break away from the dynamic retail schedule, the low-skilled work, and do something meaningful with my life, something that I can be proud of. I acknowledged that I made mistakes wasting time in my younger years, that I took it all for granted, but demanded to myself that I must change course or be stuck in a dead-end, low-tier world. I purchased several Java books and decided to start with some good ol' Oracle syntax and hopefully branch over to C++ after mastering Java.

    Almost every day since, I've been reading and studying. Practicing, practicing, and drawing out concepts for programs. While showering and sleeping, grand ideas have come to my mind for programs that have never been written, programs that could possibly change some of the industries I've worked in. I share these ideas with my friends, but they tell me things like, "Oh, that'll never work", or, "That's going to take a lot of money and manpower to do. I think you should invest your ideas elsewhere in a different field". They tell me I should go back to school and get my degree so I can understand the reality of today's business, that everyone works for someone, that I should just get that paper so I can sit at a chair and fill database slots all day, because, according to them, that's all it is.

    I know they're wrong, because I have this fiery passion inside of me to succeed. I don't want to trudge the same path as my parents. I don't want to work for someone else doing mundane, mindless, grunt work. I want to create something amazing, something never done before. I want to start my own brand, based off my vision. I feel like my friends are maybe intimidated and offended that I don't want to settle with them and live on Easy Street my whole life. I almost feel like they're intentionally trying to hold me back when I seek their support in my pursuit of happiness.

    Because of the lack of motive that I have received from my immediate peers (which are essentially all I have for family), I have slightly alienated them while I continue to study and go to the local university library so that I can read in peace. My friends have taken it in a hostile regard, making it almost a personal matter that I am trying to better myself. It makes me feel crummy, because I love my friends to death. I grew up with them, but I also want them to grow with me, either that or support me, but they won't seem to join the ride.

    In the midst of it, all of this makes me wonder if I'm doing the right things. I feel like I'm almost pushing against my moral compass to rectify past errors, but it seems to be for the greater good, building for the future. I don't have any mentors, nor do I really have anyone I can ask for advice or count on, because those that I trust are right in my age bracket and don't seem to condone my actions.

    The next best logical thing is to ask the community that is intrigued by the same thing as I. What do you guys think? Am I on the right path? Is there something I should approach differently? Is studying from home really worth it, or should I just throw money for tuition?

    I've just been acting based off what I think is right- but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's right; after all, I've been taking care of myself for all of these years. Who knows.

    Thanks so much for your time. I've been keeping these thoughts inside for a while now, just bottled up. I needed to let it out before I crossed the line and created enemies. I just want to make sure I'm being rational in trying to find success for myself.

    TL:DR - Screwed up earlier in life, trying to make up for it. I have no immediate support, but feel the need to persist on my path. Don't know if what I'm doing is right. Your thoughts?

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    Default Re: What do you think? Am I on the right path?

    When people tell me "this wil never work" or "you will never succeed", that only motivates me more to prove them wrong. If they don't want to be part of it than that's their choice, not yours. If they are holding you back, do it without them.

    People who give you negative energy should be avoided. Push them away and find people who give you positive energy. Accept the fact that you can actually alienate from your friends in a way that you're no longer compatible (read: they are slacking and doping out, while you have goals and ambition). Find fellow programmers in your neighbourhood, join a local JUG (Java User Group) or the Virtual JUG (virtual Java User Group (London, England) - Meetup). Come to the forums often. Don't be afraid to receive critques for stuff that you make, it only makes you stronger. Try to get some reasonable Java under your belt and may a job as junior Java Programmer. Read books, create stuff. Don't stop.

    You'll be sorry the moment you realize you're old and you didn't try.
    "It's not fixed until you stop calling the problem weird and you understand what was wrong." - gimbal2 2013

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    benji2505 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: What do you think? Am I on the right path?

    This article is for you. Read and answer for yourself: which steps did you manage already and where is room for improvement.

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    Default Re: What do you think? Am I on the right path?

    Thank you for your input. I really appreciate you two taking the time to read through my wall of text. It is good to know that what I'm doing is the right thing. You're correct, Surfman: the last thing anyone should do is wait until they're reaching their final years to realize that they weren't exercising their full potential.

    Benji, I visited that site and there are indeed elements that need to be improved upon. I bookmarked the page and will keep up with it to gauge my progress as I go.

    Your words mean the world to me, guys. Thanks again! :-)

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    gimbal2 is offline Just a guy
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    Default Re: What do you think? Am I on the right path?

    Quote Originally Posted by SurfMan View Post
    When people tell me "this wil never work" or "you will never succeed", that only motivates me more to prove them wrong. If they don't want to be part of it than that's their choice, not yours. If they are holding you back, do it without them.

    Find fellow programmers in your neighbourhood, join a local JUG (Java User Group) or the Virtual JUG (virtual Java User Group (London, England) - Meetup). Come to the forums often.
    Off-topic: Funny that you should mention that: are you a member of nljug by any chance? If so we might already have awkwardly stared at each other at some point in time :) Perhaps at the recent JFall.


    On-topic:

    @OP: your friends as you describe them are poison. I don't believe you do them justice, they more sound like the kind of loving friends who have no trouble to tell you flatly to your face that you're not being realistic. Good friends to have, don't waste them. If they can't see your point of view that means you can't properly explain it - that is a signal you should pick up on yourself.
    "Syntactic sugar causes cancer of the semicolon." -- Alan Perlis

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    Default Re: What do you think? Am I on the right path?

    Quote Originally Posted by gimbal2 View Post
    friends who have no trouble to tell you flatly to your face that you're not being realistic.
    While there is a certain truth to this statement, this assumes the OP and these friends have roughly similiar interests, education and (life) experience. It depends on the vision these friends have of what's possible and what's not. Their look at the world cannot be crossed out in this equation. If the biggest challenge in their lives is how much Dutch finest ganja fits in the largest bong, then I don't value their opinion about my potential world changing software very much. (Unless that software is used to calculate how much Dutch ganja fits in the largest bong...)

    I bet Bill Gates's mom and dad have told him he was not being realistic.
    "It's not fixed until you stop calling the problem weird and you understand what was wrong." - gimbal2 2013

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    Default Re: What do you think? Am I on the right path?

    Yes but Bill Gates lived in a very different time period. Nowadays world changing software is very different and much harder to market. Or even to pass without being sued for copyright infringement.

    And friends that only like to party are easy to identify and dismiss. I don't believe that is the case here.
    "Syntactic sugar causes cancer of the semicolon." -- Alan Perlis

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    Default Re: What do you think? Am I on the right path?

    About Billy, you got a point there.

    Sounds to me like he identified them alright.

    My friends also work retail and don't really have ambitious prospects. They lounge around on days off, indulging in substances and gaming out. Of course, there's nothing wrong with some leisure time, but these guys have absolutely no other hobbies for pastimes. They pride themselves off their gaming abilities.
    "It's not fixed until you stop calling the problem weird and you understand what was wrong." - gimbal2 2013

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    Default Re: What do you think? Am I on the right path?

    That's a TL;DR failure on my part. Yeah, not exactly friends with compatible goals in life. But still friends.

    Its also a rather sick example of how twisted it can get too; one of those gamer bros can turn millionaire because he streams himself playing, and you and your amazing software design are in major debt because you got sued by some patent trolling company. Friend Billy "640k of memory is more than enough" didn't see that one coming either.
    "Syntactic sugar causes cancer of the semicolon." -- Alan Perlis

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    Default Re: What do you think? Am I on the right path?

    I appreciate your input, gimbal; however, I must ask: if the market for new programming ideas is tough and ideas are snatched and stomped on through patent trolling as you say they are, what keens your curiosity to write code?

    Yeah, I understand. Today is a different time than it was when Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were around; however, that's not to say that innovation is impossible. Ideas must stretch further and further today, but they are still achievable with perseverance, ambition, determination, and a whole butt-load of hard work ethic.

    You painted the industry in a rather pessimistic light. And to go off your example, sure: my pal might make it rich by streaming. He might be the best player out there with whatever game he's playing; however, what if he can't get his name out there and be a pleasant character for his fans? Will he still be able to succeed? Will it have been a waste of his time?

    On the other hand, in our world, what if we came up with an idea that has never been done before? What if there was no patent or litigation troll out there for it? What if this idea was great enough to sell to anxious, excited customers? Is that so far out of the realm of possibility in programming?

    Of course, anything worth doing is never easy, and there will always be obstacles, no matter what you decide to do in life. It all comes down to how you look at the situation. If you don't think you will be able to accomplish something, well, you probably won't. If you think the world is a tough place to push out new ideas, then you will probably have a very difficult time innovating.

    If you wake up tomorrow and start believing that you can do something, your belief will become a manifestation of your vision and the final product. There's nothing "unrealistic" or out of the realm of possibility with that.
    Last edited by -F7-ForLife; 11-30-2015 at 10:04 PM. Reason: fixed spacing

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    Default Re: What do you think? Am I on the right path?

    99.99% of the current coders never invented something that changed the world. Me neither. I am perfectly happy coding the application that our company sells. I used to work in projects, also Java, again, never world changing stuff, but I enjoy what I do: coding. Don't let the outlook of not being able to produce something radical or world changing stop you from becoming a coder. There is nothing wrong with working for the man and doing what you like.
    gimbal2 likes this.
    "It's not fixed until you stop calling the problem weird and you understand what was wrong." - gimbal2 2013

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    Default Re: What do you think? Am I on the right path?

    Surfman spoke for me as well :) I would only consider doing a project to "change the world" as a hobby, not as my profession. But I have learned long ago you can't do something of that scope alone.

    If you want to make a name for yourself and help hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands or even millions of people, consider becoming a committer on one or more open source projects and squash those nasty bugs. Even OpenJDK. If anything you get to know people that are of a technical level that you need to make your own life's wishes come true... Making friends in that arena can only benefit you.

    As a personal eye opener, consider going to a Java event or seeing videos of a previous one. JavaOne or whatever is local to you. See what really is pushed as "the next best thing" by the major players. Maybe it will change your idea of what you should be doing with your life.
    "Syntactic sugar causes cancer of the semicolon." -- Alan Perlis

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