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How Imposter's Syndrome Makes You a Better Developer

Oftentimes the feeling of imposter's syndrome is seen as something that should be fixed. While lately more and more people of all skills have come out with their experiences of imposter's syndrome, it still is seen as shameful or a negative. I'm here to offer a slightly different take on it.

Imposter's syndrome is a sign that you're doing something right

Imposter's syndrome often occurs when you are stretching yourself and venturing outside your comfort zone. It is normal to feel more and more like an imposter as you grow in your career. If you let imposter's syndrome own you, then it can be detrimental. There are times where I have missed out on opportunites because I let it convince me I wasn't good enough to take on bigger tasks.

Rely on data, not on feelings

As developers, we tend to be very detail oriented. Imposter's syndrome makes it easy to feel that you're not doing well, but looking at data can keep you rooted. Keep an accomplishments document with all your successes that you can refer to when you feel you're not doing well. Whenever you're struggling with a concept, document it so you know what you should focus on learning. Gather data from others and ask for feedback, from code reviews to general one-on-one's.

Don't feel like you need to know everything

As a developer, your job isn't to know the answer to everything. Your job is to be able to solve problems. Focus on honing in your problem solving skills over specific knowledge, especially if you're a beginner. In-depth knowledge will come over time, but it will stick better if you are actively applying it to a problem. The other day I read an article that discussed "just-in-time" learning to fight the anxiety of needing to know it all. This additionally fights the inevitable burnout that comes with attempting to learn everything too quickly.

Normalize talking about your experience, no matter your experience

This is one that I realized later on in my career. When I was an intern and a young engineer, people would talk about imposter's syndrome, but as something that they had beat or something of their past, not as a constant. I thought that I was behind because I felt like an imposter all the time. Now, when I interact with younger engineers and interns, I make sure to be open that imposter's syndrome is something I continue to grapple with and it is normal and healthy to feel it as they continue to learn. Whether you are new to your field or are someone that newer engineers might look up to, be open and honest about your feelings. Imposter's syndrome is not a weakness, but shows you are growing and embracing being uncomfortable.

Photo credits to Nicole Wolf on Unsplash

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🌚 Friends don't let friends browse without dark mode.

Sorry, it's true.