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Anastasia 🏄🏻‍♀️ for actiTIME Inc

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Have you ever struggled with imposter syndrome? 👽

Have you ever felt like you just aren’t smart enough or like you’re incapable of being a dev? How did you overcome this feeling? What did you learn from it? Please, share! 📢

Top comments (22)

pavlosisaris profile image
Paul Isaris • Edited

Of course. Most times that I get to do something I feel not prepared about.
What I learned from it is that it's pretty OK not to know everything and not being prepared about everything (which is impossible, also). You just need to allocate time to study and get better.
The key is to learn how to battle it and accept it as you grow.

jcolag profile image
John Colagioia (he/him) • Edited

I recently posted on this, my theory being that anybody who hasn't is either an idiot or doesn't see it as a bad thing, and that it's a good thing.

Seriously, I'm glad people are finally willing to ask and those of us who have been at work for a longer time need to own up to it and normalize the fact that we're all in over our heads.

thefluxapex profile image
Ian Pride • Edited

It's really the same life concept that: the more you learn, the more you realize you don't know much at all and I think that's one of the main things behind Impostor Syndrome.

juanfrank77 profile image
Juan F Gonzalez

That is Dunning-Kruger Effect for you.
The ones who are really knowledgeable about a subject realize that they still have a lot to learn.

manishfoodtechs profile image
manish srivastava

I am chemical engineer passed out in 2005. Then, I joined government of India undertaking and appointed as head of credit for food and agro industries. After, nine years , I quiet that job to start my own venture .

Today , I own three companies- electronic, IT and infra. I love IT most.

I thought I won't be able to code ever. I started learning online from youtube etc .

Today, I know php fairly. My next learning is going to be python.

My business is also into cloud computing consultation. I learnt cloud.

I believe no one suffers from syndrome. The only thing is " every journey start with single step". Whenever, I think I can't do.... I take my first step. Even if don't reach the destination, I will atleast know the way of destination.

phantas0s profile image
Matthieu Cneude • Edited

After some years in the field, here's my thinking:

  1. There is always somebody better than me.
  2. I'll always have problems I have difficulties to solve.
  3. I'll feel an imposter because I can't solve all my problems.
  4. I'll feel in imposter because the other person is better than me.

The conclusion: everybody, at every level, even among the best of the best, will have this feeling that we shouldn't be here. That we shouldn't do what we do. That's normal, and when you fully realize that, you can begin to create some tactics to go around it:

  1. When the imposter syndrome begins to arise, think about your past self. You're better now, and that's all that matter.
  2. Difficulties and challenges will teach you a lot. See the learning you'll get from it, not the failures you're living now.

It's difficult. You need to work on that as often as you can. When your mind wander into comparisons and judgment on yourself, remember the advice above.

okeeffed profile image
Dennis O'Keeffe • Edited

I think it is human nature to question ourselves at times.

It can healthy: moments of reflection and introspection, considering change, listening to our intuition, critiquing ourselves for improvement. What becomes unhealthy is when we get to a point where it is self-deprecating and debilitating.

In our professional lives and under the stress of expectation (self-inflicted or external), I find there is a fine line between constructive and destructive criticism and feedback and that line can only continue to blur and snowball under the circumstances. We generate the infamous feedback loop from hell and it can spiral down.

Take my advice with a grain of salt, but the following has helped me:

  1. Setting core, guiding principles that you fall back to when you are feeling the pinch (from imposter syndrome or other).
  2. Appreciate strength through diversity. The more you explore, meet others and diversify, the more I personally find you appreciate our individualism and re-enforce your own understanding of human fallibility and embrace the imperfect.
  3. Having a willingness to be vulnerable. You just nailed it on the head with this post, but if you are able to find the willingness to open up about your own experiences, you will likely come to find that these are the experiences of a lot of others and find a moment of peace and clarity in your own struggles.

Again, this is empirical advice and we all come from different angles, but it may help you to find your own gotos!

shanealeven profile image

When I got my CS degree, I cried everyday... Literally. My measure of success was how little I cried that day. But I got through it. Then overtime I realized coding is just HARD! Then I asked myself why IS this so hard??? I spent an ungodly amount of time trying to answer that question. What I learned was there are innate skills that coding broke down to, which are not intuitive at all, nor have any reflection on me as a human being. It was just another item on a long list of things that I needed to decide if I wanted to spend my time getting better at. Then I decided to build a company around these things so no one who have to feel like I felt ever again. Separate the skill from your worth as a person. You are smart enough, you are capable! It'll get easier. Good Luck!

reiallenramos profile image
Rei Allen Ramos • Edited

Short answer is I haven't overcame it.

Everyone gets it whether they put a label on it or not. I guess from personal experience, I just acknowledge the fact that there's always someone better than me, therefore I need to keep an open mind and treat each moment as an opportunity to grow. This growth mindset is what's pushing me to pursue other hobbies outside of web development as well.

The advice I tell myself is to always compare what I am with what I was 3 months prior. This helps me quantify my progress.

  • I just wrote a migration file to add a new column to table foo. 3 months ago I didn't even know what a table is.
  • (time X has passed)
  • I just wrote a migration file to add a new column to table foo. 3 months ago I had to copy/paste an existing migration's filename and sloppily edit the timestamp.
  • (time X has passed)
  • I just wrote a migration file to add a new column to table foo. 3 months ago I didn't know this framework has built-in generators.

So take it easy and pat yourself on the back for every small progress you make. Leaving this powerful message below:

1.01^365 = 37.8
0.99^365 = 0.03

sohaib01 profile image

I feel like I struggle with this time to time when I am learning to code, but whenever I have learnt something I feel like I have accomplished something great. The feeling of creating something and for it to work has a great deal of satisfaction for me. I am trying my best for the imposter syndrome not to hit me again but lets see how I get along.

gklijs profile image
Gerard Klijs

Lots of times. Past week was pretty bad, with a kind of bug solved today. Learned a lot in the process, but didn't feel like it should be something spending almost a week on.
I got some feedback from my Kafka Summit talk a few weeks ago which helped.
There is just so much you could learn as developer and there is ample time to learn. It doesn't feel totally right, but sometimes it helps to see other struggle. Like live demo's going wrong, or when helping out a colleague and noticing they make an error.

ronnewcomb profile image
Ron Newcomb

No, not really, in my entire 30+ years of writing code. I wrote code for the first time before I hit puberty by reading system manuals and trying stuff out to see what stuck. There was no internet when I started college, nowhere to read about what all the cool people had made in their free time when I was still learning basics. I could only compare myself to my classmates since that's all we could see.

Now that I'm older I know that no one can be an expert on everything, and most of us only grow to be "good enough" in whatever tech of the day our employers need, before we change jobs or tech stacks or whatever. There's not enough time in our lives to really learn that framework we use or whatever, so you only learn what you need when you need it, and so does everyone else.

One guy I knew spent a lot of his time really learning Flash. He's in management now, since angular/react is totally starting over and he just didn't have the fire in him to specialize again. Same for a C guy I used to know.

Being a dev means being a lifelong learner means always being new and a bit stupid in whatever you're coding in or for (like complicated finance stuff). You're never "done" learning, never get to say "ok I understand it all now so I feel better". The tech is thrown away eventually.

I think imposter syndrome is just feeling incorrectly about feeling stupid. I'd be much more worried about a dev who never felt stupid or behind. I DO feel stupid, on many occasions, but never an imposter. Half of competence is knowing that you don't know.

icaruscomplexz profile image

Daily. I find that I am constantly looking up stuff that I think I should know. There's always some issue where I'm staring at some file that's not behaving. It's not doing what I think is written out or I am not able to figure out what it's doing, just from reading the code.

How do I overcome this feeling? That's a tough one. I don't think I will ever overcome it, but I have learned to work with it. The way I get around it is realizing that it's ok not to know something. I always forget it, but there's always going to be something someone else knows that I do not. I've tricked myself into enjoying the knowledge of others. I love learning new things, and instead of beating myself up for not knowing how to do something, I incentivize myself by seeing things as an opportunity to enjoy someone else's content and have found communities that are constantly encouraging folks to try new things.

hwolfe71 profile image
Herb Wolfe

I struggled with it a lot, along with general anxiety and depression, when I was working at my first software engineering job. I though I wasn't good enough or knew enough to do the job. It mostly went away after being treated for the depression, and I started gaining confidence in what I was doing.

Over the years, I've learned and come to accept that I'll never be able to learn about everything that interests me.

However, there's still a little bit that surfaces now and then, where I start to feel like I'll never be a dev again, particularly when I'm looking at entry level programming jobs.

lazerfx profile image
Peter Street

I've struggled with it for years. I started coding professionally in '99, and I'm still coding now. I've learned something new every week (At least, often times every day) since I started. Often, I've re-learned something I already new because I forgot it. I'm now a team lead, and I'm still learning new things and helping educate others. Do I feel over my head? Sure, all the time. I struggle to rationalise how much I think I should know with how much I actually know.

That said, I think it's a good thing to realise just how much information there is out there and not stand on your laurels and 'let it come to you' - but also recognise that there is a natural thing inside us to try and measure ourselves against others and compare our skillsets. Because computing is such a wide field, others will always have knowledge we don't; but we will have knowledge they don't.

My takeaway is always that the Team is more than the Individual. The true 10x developer is the one that works together to pull everyone in and get input from everyone needed to do the job :)

fhsinchy profile image
Farhan Hasin Chowdhury

Very frequently to be honest. When I started my job as a junior developer, I used to be afraid of getting exposed. I used ti think that someday everyone will figure out that I know nothing.

I've worked hard through the years and have gone through some promotions. Currently I'm the technical lead and have also published two gigantic articles on freeCodeCamp, but still I feel like that someday all my teammates will know that their lead is unworthy.

The worst part is I remain under pressure because of this feeling. I feel the urge to always be one step ahead and as a human, I can do just too much. Yesterday my CTO told me strictly to get a good sleep and stay off the grid this weekend.

I'm happy to have a team that takes care of me like family. I just wish to be happy with myself and not feel like an imposter.

cloudgruber profile image
Gruber • Edited

It's an ongoing process, but to list your skills and ask your co-workers about major points that could use improvements should provide honest feedback that really feels real, since any positive feedback will be met with constructive criticism, which in my experience, is enough to bypass the impostor's syndrome.