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[Detrimental] Mindset

When I was young, I was told that if I went to college, I'd get a good job. Like it was a vending machine: put in a degree and money will fall out. This wasn't really the case for me. Half of that reason being that the industry I studied died out in my hometown and I didn't have the financial ability to chase it. But mostly because I didn't know a college degree didn't guarantee success.

This left me feeling very stuck, and I had to do some serious self reflecting to figure out where exactly I wanted to go in life (huge existential crisis, I know). I was working in retail and I hated it. I knew I couldn't allow myself to just settle, there had to be something else I could pursue.

The tech field is guaranteed employment, right?

I've always known that I've wanted to work with technology, but that's such a broad term that I couldn't really pin down a place to even start looking. I toyed with the idea of going back to college to study computer science, but the idea of spending another 4+ years to get a completely different degree felt like a huge setback.

Then I heard about a coding boot camp called Operation Spark. I had zero experience with anything coding related, unless playing around with HTML on Myspace counts, so I didn't really know what I was getting into.

I don't want to say it was Hell, but...

In my educational career, I guess you could say learning came easy. I made good grades without having to pull all-nighters, hardly ever needed study sessions, and went into exams with utmost confidence.

Going through this program was like a slap in the face. Coding is hard. And it was both in the way I anticipated (learning, essentially, a new language) and in a way I didn't (doing the work won't be enough to get by). Granted, most people study and practice for years and I've only been in this program a few months, but that's not what I think about everyday.

Let's talk impostor syndrome

There are 5 types:

  • The perfectionist
  • The superwoman/man
  • The natural genius
  • The soloist
  • The expert

Which one are you? I fall into that natural genius category. I thought I could just go with the flow (as per my usual attitude) and find I'm pretty good at this along the way. That never happened. Not once did I feel like I had a solid understanding on any topic, regardless of what my instructors and peers would tell me. It's like being in a perpetual state of tip of the tongue. The information is there, but doesn't come easy.

Coding is a constant challenge that I have to push myself to face, and it's hard not to think, wow, I'm so stupid, how did I even get this far. Despite my success in the program, every time I stare at my screen in tearful frustration, completely lost because I don't know what to do, it's difficult not to feel like I should just give up entirely.

In the end

It doesn't even matter. The anxiety I feel, the uncertainty I can't shake? Everyone has been there. Part of my struggle has been to remind myself that I'm not alone. That I have only been learning this for a short while and it's going to take a lot more time for me to stop feeling so lost all the time.

Hopefully, in sharing my frustrations, you will benefit from it and recognize when impostor syndrome might be settling in. It's going to be an uphill battle, especially when starting out, but fight it all the same.

Top comments (1)

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Michael Bazile

Fantastic! Amazing!! Simply wonderful!