I'm only in my early 20's and I started programming at like 17. I had no experience with any languages and was going into it blind. Didn't really have any idea which forums to go on, I did a bit of research and decided on using C++.
I have to say, it was difficult. I was having trouble with the most basic of programs. I also wasn't committed enough and wasn't studying enough each day.
I've been through a couple of books, some weren't very detailed and didn't really explain some of the basic stuff, so when I moved onto advanced projects, it was tough. I'm actually learning C+11, decided I needed a good book and to have a go at the new standard and I'm doing way better than I did when I first went into programming.
I tried out SDL, got through several lessons, but it just felt messy. A lot of the times my code wasn't working properly. The libraries weren't linking properly. It put me off it to be honest. I've just been learning C++ and dabbled in DirectX which I really enjoyed. Jumped into SFML last week, took a bit to get it up and running, was trying to get it running on Visual Studio 2012, but it just wasn't cooperating, so I went back into the 2010 version and got it up and running. It's so much easier to use. You will get windows and shapes up in minutes of programming. The names of classes, functions, etc. are very easy to understand. They have the documentation on the website.
I would recommend SFML for someone just beginning.