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Karen Dickenson
Karen Dickenson

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Another Step to Vanquishing Imposter Syndrome

Take that imposter syndrome!

Friday was my first time presenting an industry-related lightning talk. I covered the challenge of handling imposter syndrome as a remote freelancer.

What my talk covered

Now with work and networking remote for just about everyone, we are all in the same boat. Connecting virtually with team meetings via Zoom, chatting over Slack, as well as virtual events and conferences. Geographic limitations no longer exist, just watch out for time zones.

In essence, the talk was about taking advantage of the ALL remote environment we currently find ourselves in. Some of the challenges I have faced in the past have transformed. Looking back, I think the suggestions I make can be useful to everyone.

The key take-aways are:

  • You need to take control of your own career and make your own growth/learning plan.
  • Keep a bullet journal. Document projects/tutorials/events. It can help you assess your growth.
  • Find a supportive, non-judgmental community that can help guide you forward.
  • Participate in the community

Keeping my nerves in check

For someone as introverted as I am, giving a lightning talk is a BIG step. I have taught HTM and CSS to small groups on behalf of Girl Develop It, but a lighting talk was a different beast for me.

I did my "power pose" and deep breathing beforehand (all suggestions from a workshop I did years ago). I tried to speak slower than normal and tried to fill my verbal stumbles with silence instead of "um" or "like."

Let's see how I did (timestamp 40:40 to 49:25):

I hope my personal experience offers advice others can use on their own journey to vanquish/tame imposter syndrome.

The support of a community

Virtual Coffee (VC) has been a game-changer for me. Professionally, I have had a hard time coming out of my shell. Having the chance to "meet up" with my VC compatriots twice a week for informal chats and check-ins via Zoom and ongoing Slack conversations on technical and non-tech related topics has been what I needed.

Bekah asked me to present, and I jumped. What really got me to focus was that I only had a week to prepare, an impending hard deadline. This is contrary to my usual cautious self. I let my nerves lead me to a new challenge instead of driving me back into my shell ("BAM" imposter syndrome).

Presenting to my Virtual Coffee compatriots instead of a group of strangers was another small step to tempering my anxiety and building my confidence ("POW BAM").

Bekah was gracious to do a run-through with me. Although only 5-7 minutes, the presentation took a lot of work, as any presenter knows. With each successive run-through, the content and delivery improved.

Altogether there were eight lightning talks given by Virtual Coffee members. There was a nice balance between technical and soft skills. We had our own mini (two-hour) conference. The members of VC have a broad range of technical expertise as well as varying experience presenting.

I put myself out there and challenged myself, just what my imposter syndrome was holding me back from. With the support of the VC, I hope to continue taking challenges head-on.

I hope I can give back to this community as much as I get!

What is next?

I don’t know yet.

I have taken several “big” steps these past couple of months:

I'm going to take some time to enjoy the holidays with my loved ones (virtually as needed), review my 2020 journal, and reflect on how far I have come with the support of the wonderful people at Virtual Coffee.

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