I'm noticing that your question about being on the right path isn't directly being addressed.
Yes, you're on the right track. First, you'll need to actively ignore the detractors. Nearly all of them are misinformed and just passing on misinformation. Then, you'll need to stick out learning the easy stuff, and gradually picking up the more advanced stuff.
Becoming a good or perhaps great perl coder is a journey. Nearly 20 years ago, I started on that journey, part of what has kept me coming back here has been because I am still learning things. This isn't meant to be a deterrent, or warning that it's that hard to learn, it's not, it's just that deep a subject.
So, if you're looking to be able to help yourself do something while on "the job", Perl is very likely to become more useful to you with less work than most other languages out there. Why perl now has such a bad reputation is beyond me.
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