I'm a 23-year-old novice game developer who just got his first job in the industry a year ago. Unlike most programmers I know, I started programming pretty late, during my second year in college, and I didn't work on any projects of my own until a couple of months ago. I feel like I'm doing quite well and picking things up quickly, but what intimidates me the most is just how many "prodigies" there are in the industry. If you read the biographies of any set of randomly-picked indie developers, you'll almost certainly find that they started programming at the age of 8, that they made 20 games before starting their latest successful venture, that they got together with a group of friends to start a company straight out of college, that they do music and art in addition to programming, etc. Especially now that I no longer have the free time afforded by a lack of responsibilities, I'm starting to get scared that I'm running out of time.
So my question is this: how important, really, is this time differential? Does it actually take 10 years to "catch up" to a developer who's been programming since they were a kid, or does that difference matter less when you're programming professionally? And more generally, if you're less experienced than your peers, how on earth do you juggle expanding your technical knowledge, networking with fellow developers, working on side projects, planning a business, maintaining a social life, and retaining a job while at the same time not dying of exhaustion?
Apologies if this isn't a good question — I'll delete if I see downvotes.