Beginner’s Perspective

There have been many a famous martial artist who have wished to be burried in their white belts. They knew they would be beginners in their new relm. In fact, I have known some martial artists who would wear their white belts even after recently earning their black belts. The point is, you never run out of something to learn, so never let your cup be too full of knowledge. Always stay curious.

I haven’t been learning JavaScript for that long. Perhaps a little over a year now. But I have thought I was pretty good. Yet, after reading an online article, I thought I was gonna ace the questions at the end of the article. I was doing fine until I got to an encapsulation question, and I flubbed it. So I tried to fix it as as fast as possible, and I flubbed it again. And a third time, then a fourth. By now, I was embarrassed.

Imaginary Expertise

Somewhere along the line in the last year, I began to feel like I was an expert. I magically closed the gap between novice or journeyman and master craftsman. I had some ego going. I wasn’t aware of thinking I was smarter than I was. I only became aware of it when I flubbed four consecutive attempts at the same apparently simple problem.

I just feel there’s a lesson for me here. Something like: Stop comparing myself to how I was when I started. I’m not sure if that’s it, but I figured that since I know a lot more than I did when I started, I am a whole lot smarter than New Guy was a year ago. So I must be pretty smart now, right?

Well, really, doesn’t that depend on how much more there is to learn? If the most knowledgeable person in JavaScript has only been studying for 2 years, then my 1 year might seem more like an accomplishment. But what if he got 4 years of work done in 2 years because he was really smart?

I was in a sophomore philosophy class once where the professor told the story of a conversation he had with his 6-yr-old son:

Son: Hey Dad, I think I know everything!

Dad: Why’s that, Sweetheart.

Son: Because I can’t think of anything I don’t know!

In other words, we cannot see our own blind spots.

My 1 year of experience may not be all that great yet.


Okay, I’m starting to get depressed here, but this is important.

I can’t know how smart other people are or how much JavaScript they know. But there are a lot of highly experienced JS devs out there now. JS is the number one programming language on Stack Overflow, in frequency of questions. Lots of people are using this thing. They’re trying out lots of different ideas in lots of different projects. They each will have learned unique lessons. They each will have achieved some level of smartness that has come from their experience.

How could I ever expect to compare myself to every single other JavaScript developer? How could every other JavaScript developer expect to compare him/herself to everyone else? It’s kind of a crazy proposition.

So, I shouldn’t be basing my own self-esteem on where I am on the Grand Smartness Scale of JavaScript Development!

Employers have to decide who to hire among lots of qualified developers. That’s probably a crapshoot. They take their best shot.

But I don’t have to shoot craps. I don’t really need to know where I stand relative to all other JS developers. I just need to know what I know and learn what I need to know. I just need a Beginner’s Mind. Every day. Of my life.