|Keep It Simple, Stupid|
In my experience I have found that, as in many disciplines, there are those who were born to it & those who are made. The very best are usually those who are both. Like a Mozart type, with an inherent gift, and a Maestro for a father to encourage him. (..or make him into a trained monkey...)
But then there's the rest of us. I started programming when I was 6 & I'm 30 now. I'm not Merlyn either or Vroom for that matter. But in my own circle of influence I make a difference. How do I get better? By wanting to learn. That's what makes all the difference. It makes a difference in who I hire also. If you want to learn then I'll hire you in a minute over someone who's been writing nothing but CGI's for 3 years & doesn't know how to use mod_perl for example...
So what does that mean? That means that you're going to act a little geeky, in that you might spend your lunch hour reading tech books, like all of the O'reilly books that are pushed by everyone here with a semi-religious zeal.. (Merlyn helped write a few after all..) or kill time in the office by decyphering how your favorite module's code works.
It also means that you DO learn the 'wierd' syntax. Learn the code that you don't know & without question you'll find uses for it. And then you WILL use it. Then you'll open your eyes a little more & realize that you weren't the first person to figure that out & you start learning new ways to do things. After a while you'll start realizing that all of these 'gurus' you worship are just plain folks like yerself. They just spend their time differently. They learn. What's more, they're not these inapproachable demi-gods, they're actually interesting people to talk to. & yes you'd be a little snippy too if you kept answering the same simple FAQ-entry questions all the time. But have you ever stopped & realized that when people here take the time to post code, they've taken the time to write about it, think about it, agonize over it, etc... Especially when it's not their code, but rather a reply, you come to understand that these people really (say it with me now) want to learn.
I know for me, sometimes I feel like I'm searching for the Holy Grail. The truth is you'll never be Good Enough. When you are, that means you're done learning & then well, it's time to die("Say goodbye to the nice people\n");
Wait! This isn't a Parachute, this is a Backpack!