Or, how have you become a successful web developer?...

The reason I ask is because I find the number of different technologies out there that need to be used is quite overwhelming.

I mean just to become a decent, semi-employable developer you need to know:

HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP/Scripting language, MySQL.

To master of become proficient in any of these technologies (barring maybe HTML/CSS) is quite difficult and there is a lot to learn.

I am wondering what route you took to becoming a developer, how much time it took to become a skilled professional. Did you do it alone, teaching yourself with online resources? or were you mentored by a pro?

What was your first professional job, what was the pay like, did you struggle with university or breeze through it.

I am basically asking about all aspects of you going from - I want to be a developer/programmer to actually becoming a competent pro.

A little about me: I find it quite difficult and daunting and the prospect of a career seems so far away at the moment. (I am only 20, so I do have time on my side). I do enjoy building web sites & have big ambitions but when I'm struggling to pick up something (OOP Java for example) it feels like I'm learning nothing and wasting my time. I am pretty good with HTML/CSS, can do the basics with JavaScript (mainly from finding solutions online and implementing them, such as here), have watched a few tutorial series' on PHP etc, but I wouldn't call myself a good programmer at all.

I understand why things are useful (Such as OOP for larger more manageable programs, JavaScript for manipulating web pages and making them interactive, PHP for building dynamic DB driven sites etc..)

I'm really interested to hear the replies from current pro web developers and programmers and also other aspiring to be so.