Is it normal to feel lost and stupid?

I am Studying at Full Sail University in Orlando, FL… I have recently taken a break because of mental health reasons, as well as starting a new job. I started on the Full-Stack Engineer back in 2021, because I felt that maybe Codecademy could explain more things in detail to me… and for the most part, I really feel that it was money well spent…

However I currently scored a skipping through on some of the things because I know a fair amount of HTML, CSS, and I have really picked up on JavaScript. However, I’m doing React Part I and Part II right now And I just keep on asking myself if maybe this isn’t a good career path for me. I go back and forth on if I understand it and if I don’t, my most recent discovery of Chat GPT allows me to ask questions and explain things to myself in detail in general detail or like I am a 10 year…

But I really worry about my future, I have never believed in the old saying “Some people are not meant for higher education” I also feel very lost and stupid when it comes to these things… Either I rely on the “get unstuck” button and help that build my whole code or sometimes it’s little things I was just off by a small amount of code.

I don’t know if that’s normal. I guess at the end of the day what I’m asking is anyone out there that’s completed any of these courses or that are here to help; Did you feel this way in college less after doing these type of things?

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I am a 45 year old who had given up coding (never really learnt it) and after a corporate job have been laid off and back to coding … I am always lost and feel stupid most of the times. The idea is to persist and no matter what - should get resolved one way or the other. Dont focus on being smarter , focus on finishing, persisting and repeating


I would change the phrase to “Not every higher education is for everyone”. The fact is that every country and every university may have different teaching methods and rules. :thinking:
I have successfully completed higher education in my country. But when I decided to go into the IT industry and enrolled in higher education in Germany, I realised that the local education system did not suit me at all. It was so mentally bad, that I almost gave up programming completely. :pensive:
Now I’m trying to advance in programming on my own, looking for a better form of education for me. I’ve found some interesting options, but they mostly teach management and business, not development. But I’m not giving up and keep looking. As a last resort, I hope my portfolio, which I’m doing now, will help me get a job even without a college degree.
And if you really like programming, don’t give up either. Maybe you just need to find a more suitable path. :wink:

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There’s a bit to break down here, so let’s look at a few things:

First, full-stack engineering is VERY difficult to learn. There are so many technologies and concepts to understand and you are dealing with all of them at once. Starting to learn coding through full-stack is like trying to learn how to swim by jumping into the middle of the ocean. It’s not impossible, but most people (including me!) are going to overwhelmed. That feeling of being in over your head is probably what is turning you off from tech and higher education altogether. It feels like because you can’t get through this difficult course, you aren’t capable of doing anything at all.

As far as being off by small amounts of code, that is perfectly normal. Watch this video from Dave’s Garage and see how he makes tiny mistakes a lot in his code. This is a guy who has spent over 30 years in the industry, and he still has to go back and fix one or two lines to correct simple mistakes like syntax errors or typos. It’s normal to have small mistakes, and at our level, it’s normal to need outside help (like “get Unstuck”) to find them.

On the topic of college & higher education, I’ve never heard anyone say that some people aren’t meant for higher education. I’ve seen a lot of people (myself included) who say that college/university isn’t for everyone, and what that means is that some people are better at working with their hands than reading a book all day. It’s a matter of perspective. It’s not that a welder is too stupid to learn how to code, but that he is so good at welding that he doesn’t need to worry about learning to code. His skills and abilities are different from mine.

My answer: Yes, it is normal to get frustrated, to get stuck, and to feel lost. That’s part of learning any new skill. My recommendation to you: Two things. First, step back for a minute and take a look at your own mindset. What motivated you to start this journey? Is this really a field you think you want to be in? Maybe you’re the kind of person who has more fun building something physical than sitting at a computer all the time. Maybe you like talking to people more than searching for typos. Do an honest self-assessment. If you think that this is still the right path for you (because it just might be!), then the next step is to try slowing down. Put the full-stack course on pause, go into one of the smaller courses. Maybe run through just the HTLM & CSS courses that don’t involve all the other technologies. Try out other courses on Codecademy, just to try something different. And third, take a break every now and then. Log out, spend a month or two doing something else entirely. Don’t log into codecademy for a week or two, don’t open an IDE, don’t mess with a text editor. Give yourself some time to de-stress. Then when you come back, you will look at this whole thing a little bit differently.


A little preface, I suffered a brain injury several years back and struggled quite a bit when talking and remembering things. I would stutter and fumble on my words, and it made me feel so dumb and insecure. I still struggle to this day but not as bad. Many people claim they don’t/didn’t notice when I’d pause and struggle to speak, but that’s bull haha.

I’ve had to relearn pretty much everything after the injury. I didn’t even know my own name and birthday.

My point to this is you are not alone whatsoever, and if you’re anything like me, I’m incredibly hard on myself and notice things people apparently don’t.

I’m 32 by the way and was headed towards med school to become a doctor. After my injury, I didn’t return and ended up volunteering then running a nonprofit until last year when I decided how much I loved fixing the org’s website that I wanted to pursue it.

This might sound silly, but I actually go on learning websites geared towards kids! Haha I can’t tell you how wonderful the projects are on the Raspberry Pi Foundation website or how much easier it is to understand JavaScript on Khan Academy. My favorite projects have actually come from these sites!

Programming has its easy parts and its difficult parts; there is so much to learn that it may be overwhelming. LaunchCode actually has a fantastic course that’s about preparing to learn web development. I’ve learned that some concepts may not make sense at the time, but every single time I take a break and continue working up to that same concept, it ends up clicking, and I finally understand. It feels great even if it takes a long time to fully understand.

Once I feel like I’m ready, I go on Frontend Mentor or Dev Challenges and test my skills. There are also many sites like Exercism that have exercises for several programming languages.

I’ve spent a ton of time researching the best free resources on web development. If you’d like, I can share a link to my coda document with my running list.

Don’t give up and be nicer to yourself :).

Have you looked into Career Karma and Career Foundry? Career Karma is totally free, AMAZING, and they have mentors and a community of beginners helping each other get ready for a job in tech.

Do you have a little coding group/accountability buddy or anything like that? There are tons of resources out there that can help with getting ready and feeling confident about your path to the tech world. There are some awesome mobile apps with supportive communities as well as tech blogs for beginners like you and me :).

I researched the heck out of this decision to start web development, so feel free to reach out if there’s anything I can help with!