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How I Became a Beginner Again (An Imposter Syndrome Story)

I walked into an interview blind.

At the marketing agency, I thought we were going to be talking about writing.

I had a fresh degree in English literature and a year on my resume writing copy for enterprise software companies.

My interviewers saw my soul — the HTML, CSS, and computer science courses — my secret side projects, and my self-talk that I was not smart enough to be a professional. At this agency, developers decided they liked me enough to train me.

I walked out of the interview with an offer to start as a web developer intern. I packed my bags and moved immediately.

A few months turned into a few years, and I never had so much fun, growing from intern to full-time lead and perfecting my craft from project to project.

But when it came time to move on, something happened: I was scared.

When I went out into the world, outside of the safe haven of my agency, I struggled selling myself. Scathing technical interviews and massive lists of technical requirements scrambled my mind. In an instant, I was a beginner again, and the great investment I and others made had melted away in my mind to become a developer again.

This fear changed my path. I went back to writing — something I knew that I could confidently do.

And this is where I have remained.

Just last Fall, I was in the middle of taking yet another computer science course, wondering when I was going to finally reach the professional threshold in my mind.

During this time, I bought my first home with my partner of ten years. When I missed class on moving day, my professor mistook me for a freshly-graduated high school student. He told me I was in the real world now and warned me against slacking again.

I wondered what brought me here — to yet another class and to being 19 again.

When will I be good enough? I kept wondering. And then, it hit me: I am good enough right now.

That is why this year I have started Books on Code -- to renew myself as a developer, to soak in the world, and to contribute in a way I am uniquely qualified to do.

Imposter syndrome — that fear of never being able to earn our place or of not being smart enough — has been the most insidious blocker in my life.

I got here by others believing in me.
Now it’s time for me to believe in myself.

Thank you for reading this short post.

If you like, follow me on my journey! Sign up for my newsletter on Books on Code, where I send weekly motivational letters, or find me on Twitter.

Let’s conquer imposter syndrome together.

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