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Cat McGee
Cat McGee

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How do you deal with imposter syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is a huge issue, especially in the tech industry.

I've started a collaborative blog site to try to conquer this. Anyone can write something, from your experiences to imposter syndrome, to a mistake you made. Hopefully this will help readers to understand that they're not alone.

How do you normally deal with this feeling of inadequacy? Does it pass for you? Do you let yourself feel that way, or do you take steps to conquer it? What are your tips for overcoming imposter syndrome?

Top comments (18)

aralovelace profile image
April Smith

I experience this syndrome like almost every team meeting, there are technologies that a lot of them knew but I don't know and I always felt I am the dumbest person in the room.
I can't really say any tips as I am still overcoming it but I keep myself updated and whenever I knew the topic I share my opinion what I really think about it.

derekjhopper profile image
Derek Hopper

For me, I've accepted the feeling will always surface from time to time. It's hard to completely avoid it. However, knowing that it's there can help push it aside quickly.

Everyone is always learning. Each of us has a unique set of experiences and those experiences form our understanding of tech, programming, and everything else in our lives. Knowing that, we all have something to offer.

The best way to combat impostor syndrome is to keep showing up. Keep learning. Continue searching for knowledge. That's what I've learned and that's what we're all doing anyway.

It's OK to stumble around in the dark to find the light switch because every new problem starts with some darkness.

meseta profile image
Yuan Gao

I think for me it was after doing some teaching. In order to teach something, I needed to make sure I knew why I was writing code in the way I was writing it; and several times, as I went over what I was about to explain in my head, I realised I didn't fully grasp why things were the way they were, and so I did some research into it so that I could explain why I was writing the code that way.

After a while of doing that, I realised that I was filling in a lot of gaps in my knowledge, I now knew not only how to do something by why I was doing it that way and not one of three other ways. I felt that did a lot to banish impostor syndrome because at least for the stuff I was doing, I now knew I had a solid understanding of it and wasn't just doing it because I saw someone else do it in a tutorial once.

Other than that, it was just time. As I progressed with my career, and could count more successes as part of it, I think slowly that built up some self-confidence that I lacked.

jcolag profile image
John Colagioia (he/him)

Over twenty-five years in the field, I'll try to say something that most people don't get to notice and are terrified to say out loud: We all have imposter syndrome, and it's because we're all imposters. And there's your solution.

What I mean is that nobody "evolved" to hold a job or solve problems for anywhere from hundreds to billions of people. As developers, none of us was "meant" to write code, a field that quite a few living people are still old enough to remember not existing at all. And if any of us was ready for our work, it'd already be complete. So, we're all really just pretending that we're good at this and doing the best we can, and if you don't think you're wrong. The functioning people, I suspect, are the people who have internalized this as a normal state of affairs, in the same way that the people who "fit in" socially are the people who accept that nobody ever really fits in.

That has the seeds of fixing the problem, because we have a support group with seven billion members sitting right here. We--primarily white and Asian guys who make up the majority of the field--need to normalize saying "I need to learn that" and, instead of being shocked that someone doesn't know something, being excited at the chance to introduce them to it. It needs to be OK to be doing a job you're learning as you go, because that's the only kind of job there is.

0ctavia profile image

I have this a lot. I've started trying to track how I'm talking to myself, even outside of the moments where my stomach sinks. A lot of the time when impostor syndrome feelings are running high, I have something in the back of my head calling me names and making statements that basically say I am not able. I try to tell that voice to shut up, and I argue with it.
I think I need to do some work on why my performance at my job is such an important part of my self-esteem. Work is just work, but it feels like more than work.

joelbonetr profile image
JoelBonetR πŸ₯‡

this may help you to understand yourself a little bit and find the way to go, tell me if it does :)

delta456 profile image
Swastik Baranwal

I feel this like every month. I just give myself time with other things except coding. Imposter Syndrome often happen due to burnouts and seeing people better than you so I think about what I have and what the other person doesn't have. It does take time but works at least for me.

joelbonetr profile image
JoelBonetR πŸ₯‡ • Edited

I saw this for long time specially on definition meetings, where you or another teammate/s don't know some technology; meaning language, framework, tool and so.

The best thing you can do (I think) is to put your hands on brainlessly and play with that a bit, you'll notice you can manage it better than you expected. Then practice a bit, read some theory about (for what it's meant to, what differences it from another alternatives...) and write an article trying to explain this concepts to another people so you can patch the holes you may keep on that matter.

Oh and, keep reading things here!
You know nothing about CI/CD? Here's a post that covers concepts and practice for you to try at home.

You lack on knowledge or experience on some parts of the entire process? Here's a post that covers a simplified version of almost all the entire process of a real use case so you can put your hands on and try at home.

When you know how to do the stuff in one manner you can also check other ways for reaching the same result so you can compare and take your own conclusions to see which one fits better to your projects at work.

Do you think you learn slowly? Do you waste time on online courses and posts that promises you a full knowledge on few hours only for being frustrated at the end? check this.

The worst thing you can do is to keep crying because you don't know something and still remain wasting your time on things that don't make you grow up (i mean, first learn what you need, then waste your time on netflix, hbo, amazon prime, gaming, going out...) or combine things and being constant and strict with your timings.

bassforce86 profile image
James King

For me personally, my best coping mechanism to combat imposter syndrome is to look over old projects. You (generally) realise that even if you're still making mistakes, you can see improvements you could make to your old projects, this (to me) shows improvement and progress.

krtobias profile image
Tobias Krause

Just look back the last couple of month and think about the new stuff you learned. If you learned a lot...then it is imposter syndrome. If there is not so much stuff then you should probably learn something new.
Sadly a lot of people who don't learn much say its imposter, while a lot of hard-working people think they are lazy...

stereoplegic profile image
Mike Bybee

Remember that everyone has it, and a lot of them actually are impostors:
Answer to imposter syndrome

fraybabak profile image

this problem hits me all the time. I think it is all about knowing things. normally this happens to me when I cant do something new or having hard time for debugging. or expectation from manager or your boss at work. the solution is just stop coding and give a break to your self.just remember your knowlege has been improved scence the first day you became a developer. your are handling stuff now that you didnt know about them last month. do not compare your self to others . accept what you already are and try to learn from others, see their codes , try to discuss about problems . try to underestand their approach to problems. this gives you presspective . human mind can grow , can develop new thing from other things. you are a developer , your job is to develop new things . dont fear to ask your questions. always try new tools . write down your gap knowleges and study about them. after 5 years experiance in development I findout we need to improve the skills already have rather than learning new topics . this is like opening doors that you wont be able to close them . if these open doors increases you dont have enough time to close them . just remember if you can develop things from nothing , you can develop your self too , matterials doesnot matter.

francoscarpa profile image
Franco Scarpa • Edited

Since my first year in university, I’ve been going through imposter syndrome for a long time when I attended the Computer Science class. There were so many brilliant students. I thought to be good with computers, but I was wrong. Everyone seemed to be better than me; at least I saw them like that. I was even afraid to say something stupid.
On the other hand, I met guys who lacked in things I instead knew, too. Relating with students was an important step, not only for the friendship I have with them now but also because β€œwe were in this together.” We helped each other, and that was invaluable.
Today I work in a software company; this shows I was wrong when I thought I was not suited for Computer Science. Even if I still face imposter syndrome, I live together with it. I know who I am, what I can do, and what’s my knowledge. At the same time, I know there are better and worse people than me. Imposter syndrome helps me remember I still have a lot to learn, but I don’t let it outdo me.

phantas0s profile image
Matthieu Cneude • Edited

Software development is a young field, and we are alchemists (or astrologists, if you prefer) trying to figure out how the hell do I debug my 1238 microservices?

It means that nobody is really good in it, that we miss very often what's really important (what we build and its outcome, and not tab vs space vs static typing vs OOP), and, more important, that almost nothing we consider The Truth was scientifically proved. You know, science, the stuff which brought us computers at the first place.

It means that we are all imposters. We should all be humble, listen to our peers, question them, bring diversity in our companies, but never affirming that we are right because that's how it works because I know and Uncle Bob agrees.

Imposter syndrome will always creep in from time to time. I'm bad, everybody else is better. My counter-thinking: I'm not that good, and everybody as well, because we are all explorers. That's not only fine, but exciting.

remotesynth profile image
Brian Rinaldi

This is great! Thank you for doing this. You already have a lot of content there.

Coincidentally, later this morning (noon ET) I am hosting a talk on imposter syndrome that you may be interested in called The Power of YES Against Imposter Syndrome and featuring Hiro Nishimura, founder of AWSnewbies. (note for anyone who misses the live event, the recording will be available at the same URL).

____marcell profile image
Marcell Cruz

I accept it and try to understand it logically. You can use imposter syndrome to motivate you to do better, and not suffer too much from it