Dealing with confusion


It’s normal to feel confused when you’re trying to learn something new.

Some people hate this feeling. I know I do. But it’s important to feel this confusion.


Let’s say you want to visit tokyo. And you’ve never been to Tokyo before. For some reason, you found yourself in Tokyo one day.

You’re bound to be confused at this point. You haven’t done your research on Tokyo. You don’t know where to stay, you don’t know what to eat. Worse, you don’t even know Japanese.

What will you do? You have two choices:

  1. You can freeze up and hope that someone will bring you around Tokyo
  2. You can explore Tokyo regardless of your feelings—even if you’re afraid or confused or overwhelmed.

Many people freeze up

You can freeze up if you want to. That’s what many people do when they learn programming.

They say: “This is too much. I don’t know. I’m not good at this.” and they give up.

But you can choose differently

You can choose to explore Tokyo regardless of what you’re feeling.

You can walk the streets. Sooner or later the streets will become familiar to you.

You can learn Japanese. You can talk to the locals. Sooner or later, Japanese will become more and more familiar to you.

You won’t feel so confused or overwhelmed about the city anymore. You can figure out where the tourist spots are, you can figure out where the best cafes are, you can figure out anything you want.

You just need time and persistence to push past the confusion. But you need to embrace the confusion before you can push past it.

Embrace the confusion

You may feel confused about CSS or JavaScript or some new features, or frameworks that you haven’t learned yet. That is because you don’t know it well enough. It’s froeign to you. That’s why you’re confused.

Give it some time. Explore it. You’ll come to understand it.

Tips for overcoming confusion

Here are some tips to help you overcome confusion slightly faster.

1. Establish what you know

You want to establish what you know and what you don’t know. You need to know what you don’t know before you can explore.

This is the first step.

2. Figure out the cause and effect

Things always happen for a reason. If you know the cause and effect, and if you can reproduce it, you’ll feel less stressed.

Let’s say for example you have an error message. You know you did something wrong but you don’t know what caused the error. What you can do is to look for the cause. When you find the cause, you can fix the error. In future, when you chance upon the same error, you’ll know what caused the error, and you can go back to fix it.

3. Slow down

You need to give yourself time to absorb things before they become familiar.

If you don’t give yourself the time to learn, you don’t give yourself the chance to learn.

You may read stuff, but you won’t be able to remember them.

Slow down and make sure you understand what you’re trying to learn.

4. Ask questions

People who walked the path before you have the answers you seek. They can point you in the right direction. Ask them.

You may look like an idiot for a second.

The good news is, you’ll only look like an idiot for that one second. If you find an answer, you will no longer be the same idiot you were a second ago. It’s worth it.

If you don’t ask, then you’ll remain an idiot for longer than one second.

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