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Discussion on: I am an imposter. You too?

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Michael Stelly

This is a topic that can never be discussed too much. I cannot explain the psychological changes that occurred in my head when I discovered this concept. They were nothing less than transformational. I spent decades comparing my work product to those who I just knew were smarter, faster, and had more experience in my field than I did. It affected my performance, my confidence, and my credibility as a software developer.

Then, during the course of reading my industry articles a few years ago, I read about imposter syndrome. I was floored. It had my name all over it. Imagine a fantasy movie where the protagonist inserts the key into the amazingly complex lock. The giant gears start spinning noisily and all fall into place with a satisfying, resounding thud. That was my epiphany.

Since then, I learned that no one has any more or less knowledge about my particular task at hand than I do. People aren't withholding my solution in hopes that I fail. I'm not being secretly judged as inferior. Everyone on my team is just as invested as succeeding as I am. It's ok to ask questions and not have all the answers.

What freedom! Such relief. The years of anxiety just melted away. My whole approach to my daily work changed nearly overnight. I still make mistakes and have a great deal to learn. But I no longer judge myself lesser than anyone else. I hope everyone can reach a similar level of personal acceptance. We all have valuable contributions to make. Best of luck.

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Johan van Tongeren Author

Thanks for the extensive reply, Michael! And so well written too!

I completely recognize the unlocking feeling when first reading about Imposter Syndrome. I was already a few years into therapy after my burn-out and I wish I learned this before. It would have helped me put things into perspective so much more.

For me it doesn't feel like it's completely over yet, but your reply surely helps me get there!