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Yes, I still fall victim to Imposter Syndrome

geekgalgroks profile image Jenn ・1 min read

Imposter Syndrome is extremely common in tech. We are constantly learning and growing our skills. So much so, that we can forget how far we've come.

The only ways I have found to combat this is to keep a running list of accomplishments and to surround myself with people I trust. The accomplishments list helps me to see how much I have learned. I trust my tech friends to be truthful about my skills when I ask. Together, these keep most of the ugliness of imposter syndrome away.

Last weekend, I was questioning my skills again. All it took was a colleague who I looked up to saying "Oh! I really like that timeline and those skill bars. How did you do that?" on my new website to make me remember I do belong and know my stuff.

Make a list, find trusted colleagues/friends, and remember you belong.

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Jenn

@geekgalgroks

Jenn is a self taught web developer who specializes in usability and accessibility. She is easily spotted at conferences by her bright lipstick and various code dresses and t-shirts.

Discussion

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keep a running list of accomplishments

Great idea.

My favorite thing to do in this regard is to occasionally sit down and pinpoint things I was doing 1, 2, 3 years ago, etc. and allow myself credit for how far I’ve come since then.

 

I think consciously reflecting on your achievements like this is crucial long term!

 

I have a coworker who always recommends keeping a 'yay me' file or journal somewhere and trying to write 2-3 wins you had at the end of the day. Even if they're small. I started doing it recently, and it at least gives me perspective on what I'm doing well!

 

I have something called an impostor flashcard which is basically a list like this on steroids. So important to keep reminding yourself of your capabilities- the inbuilt tendency to self criticism has to be countered

 

I say I've got Impostor Syndrome, but honestly I think I'm just faking it.

More seriously, recording accomplishments is good, but also keeping a list of "I'll be a bit more awesome when" goals. It's easy to disparage a recent achievement, while forgetting that a few months (or years) ago it might have seemed entirely out of reach.

Also, you clearly don't have impostor syndrome - you can't even spell it. ;-)

 

Oh no! I am an imposter at being an impostor. ;)

Well at least this lead to me finding this interesting article on trying to determine which spelling is correct.

 

I slouch corrected. English is always delightful at supporting multiple spellings, even ignoring the mid-Atlantic rift...

 

The surface area of what you don't know gets bigger and bigger the more you learn. The amount of things you'll realize you don't know grows exponentially while your knowledge grows linearly.

In addition to a list of accomplishments, which is a great idea for representing how far you've come, make a list of things that are utterly baffling to you today and see if you can knock any of those off the list in the months or years to come.

Something that seems downright dizzying today you might learn and think is no big deal later on, but your past self would surely be impressed with what your future self can do.

 

About this, 5min to read a great post from Dan Abramov.
A (or the) ReactJS core team, facebook engineer, Redux co-author.

overreacted.io/things-i-dont-know-...

 

I was a Christian missionary working in a developing country. I was convincing myself that I was not the best person for the job I was doing (IT support) and that there were thousands of better qualified people in the world who could do a better job and should have been there making less of hash of it than what I was.

It didn't dawn on me until years later that whether I was the best fit or not, I was the one God had appointed to that role in that place at that time. None of those thousands had applied to that missionary society. No one else had shown the slightest interest in working in that fairly dangerous country. No one else had made it through the stringent testing and training regime.

I believed a lie. I spent years dealing with the depression aftermath.

We can be okay at stuff, and we call all do better.

This impostor thing doesn't limit itself to vocation. It attacks parents too. I'm okay as a dad. I could have done better in the kids early years. But they're not dead yet and neither am I. I can still be and do better. I'm not pretending to be their dad. I am their dad.

 

Yeah, I have a document with a list of everything I've achived in my line of work.
I re-read it more times than I'd like to admit, but it keeps me away from the ImpSys for a while.
Ocasionally in a re-read I found out I'm missing something and I add it, that's a powerful feeling too.
The list keeps track of things I've achieved in terms of good feelings during work time, you can find a "Hello World" that I'm proud of as well as big contributions in a big team.
The key is to save that feeling, the feeling is what make you feel better when you are in "these days".

 

The only solution that I've found is to walk into situations with my brain turned off. Day by day it has become better.