Full Discussion (Share Your Experiences with Impostor Syndrome)

When I first became a teacher assistant (TA) for my bootcamp, I felt pretty excited to help students, show people who were in once my position, and also maybe show off a little of my skills. I felt pretty confident in my coding ability, and was finishing an apprenticeship as well.

One student had a lot of questions and was very inquisitive. We were setting up the dev environment and she wanted to know what exactly she was installing on her machine. I told her Rails was a framework we'll be using "to learn the basics," and she kept asking (politely and out of genuine curiosity) questions like why we're learning Ruby and not Python, what exactly Git was, or what's the difference between PostgreSQL and MySQL. I felt that me being a TA meant I had to know all the answers, and suddenly started feeling overwhelmed and incompetent, asking myself, "Gee why don't I know the answers to her questions?"

While I did have that exact thought, I don't think there was necessarily a starting point of imposter syndrome. Maybe it was the fact that I got a TA job even though the only programming I did was the 6 hour/week apprenticeship for several months after graduating my bootcamp.

The biggest nightmare of going through imposter syndrome for me was that it was this constant feeling of "you're not actually a programmer" that hovered over me. It probably stemmed from the fact that I don't have a college degree, and hadn't really done anything with my life in general. I questioned whether or not I could really call myself a "programmer." That feeling made me not want to write code or learn new concepts, which then validated that negative feeling even more. The lack of responses from job applications didn't really help either.

What really helped me was when I started listening to some advice I read from Haseeb's blog post about getting your first engineering job. I reached out to some people just for informational interviews and to hear what it's like working as a developer. Surprisingly, I got responses from most of the ones I reached out. I also wrote pretty earnestly to them, and while I don't know if that kind of honesty helped me get a meeting, it certainly made me realize I wanted to get some advice and help to continue on the road of becoming a programmer.

Once I started getting some balance and a sense of where I should be, I felt more empowered to program again. Practicing started the positive feedback loop of doing more, which then gave me more confidence. Also, that allowed me to actually answer questions from my students. Helping others and being able to see that what I said/did was useful to them was definitely validating, too.

And with enough work and luck, I managed to get the job I have now at The Practical Dev! It was a great ride overall, and the "end" (if there is one) is certainly worth it. Here's to a bright future for all us non-imposters!

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