Why you should read this article?
Like many others, I have experienced imposter syndrome firsthand. During my internships, I often felt as if I was "lucky" or that I am going to fail at the tasks assigned to me. One of my very first tasks was to work on a Flask API and integrate it with an Azure Service. I had prior experience working with Flask but the Azure stuff was pretty new to me. However, the service was well-documented and there were multiple articles related to it as well. It only required a bit of research and the entire task shouldn't have taken more than 2-3 dev days. I had estimated the story points for the task based on that. However, what I had not accounted for was imposter syndrome. It took me around double the time I had initially expected and in the first 2 days, I barely wrote any code. I wanted my code to be perfect and was scared of writing bad code. I over-researched and spent more time on the documentation than I should have. I was scared that not being able to complete my task would make me a bad developer and all those imposter syndrome questions like "Am I good enough?", "Do I deserve this position" started creeping up. Most of my actual development work was done in 2 days and although I thought my code was perfect I still needed multiple revisions to merge it.
Although with time I felt more comfortable, I still felt waves of imposter syndrome here and there. When I joined another company as an intern, my first PR took me around 10 revisions before I could merge it. This caused me to go down the rabbit hole of imposter syndrome questions again. Again, with time I felt more comfortable.
I am not saying I have successfully found a way to deal with imposter syndrome or that this article is going to help you with your imposter syndrome but I hope you feel better knowing that there is someone else as well who is going through the same thing as you. I am pretty sure I am going to experience imposter syndrome when I start my FT job as well. The content of this article is written based on my personal experience and the various articles I have read when I experience imposter syndrome. Feel free to critique anything and give feedback.
What is imposter syndrome?
Imposter syndrome is a toxic pattern in the minds of many computer programmers. It manifests in the fear that you are not good enough, that everyone else has better ideas or is more competent than you. You might feel like you're always on the verge of being found out that it's only a matter of time before someone sees through your facade and exposes your failures. Imposter syndrome is a dangerous pattern of thinking that makes you feel inadequate in your current job or career path. If you're not careful, it can lead to reduced productivity, poor work ethic, and low self-esteem. It's also something that has been shown to affect many software developers worldwide.
Signs of Imposter Syndrome
- One of the most common early signs is difficulty making decisions, doubts over both subjective and objective decision-making. You may feel like you can't make up your mind or that you'll always make the wrong decision. Often, this will lead to not taking any chances, which often makes things worse. When something bad happens, you're quick to blame yourself and become even more indecisive.
- You might also feel like everyone around you is smarter or better at their job than you are. You constantly compare yourself to others in an effort to define your own competence. The problem with this is that it takes away from the value of your own accomplishments, making you feel unworthy of praise.
- Finally, imposter syndrome is often experienced as an inverse effect where the more progress your make or the more positive your accomplishments, the more you feel like a fraud or failure. You might think that it's all going to go away and no one will ever acknowledge your success again. It makes enjoying a job or career difficult due to constant self-doubt even when things are going well.
How to deal with imposter syndrome?
Although there is no one-size-fits-all answer, here are a few ideas that may help you deal with imposter syndrome:
- Talk to someone about how you're feeling. It can be really helpful to talk to someone who will understand what you're going through. Find someone you trust and talk about your experiences, feelings, and thoughts. This can help you gain some perspective on the situation.
- Stop comparing yourself to others. This is easier said than done, but it's important to remember the importance of checking your ego and learning from others' mistakes so you can improve your own work. It's important to be aware of what others are doing so that you can learn from them, but it's not healthy to constantly compare yourself to others.
- Take credit for your successes. Remember all the things you do well? Be proud of them! If you made a mistake, don't dwell on it. Nobody's perfect. This is why you shouldn't compare yourself to others because everyone makes mistakes. Don't be afraid to give yourself credit when you've done something well.
- Keep learning new skills even if they aren't directly related to your job or career path. You might feel like you know everything there is to know about a certain topic, but there is always more to learn. Never stop learning just because you're good at something. Always keep expanding your knowledge so that you can handle new situations and challenges with ease!
Tips for dealing with imposter syndrome as a software developer
- As a software developer, it's important to check your ego and learn from others' mistakes. When you're working in a team, it's crucial to be able to listen to other people's ideas and be open to constructive criticism. You also need to be humble enough to learn from your own mistakes. If you can do this, then you'll be able to become a better developer and contribute more to your team.
- It can also help break up the day or week by taking brief breaks between tasks, reorganizing tasks into categories, or working on side projects that are not related to your job or career path. This allows you time away from the stress of work without sacrificing too much time since the other task isn't work-related.
- Setting short-term goals and trying to envision what it would look like once you achieve those goals.
- You can also try exercising, meditating, or reflecting on your day to help you refocus and find peace within yourself. If you're feeling particularly stressed out by imposter syndrome, it can be helpful to take a few deep breaths before returning to work.
- Lastly, it's important not to compare yourself unfairly to other developers. You need to understand the value of constructive criticism and learn from your mistakes. This way, you'll be able to improve as a developer and contribute more to your team.
Living with Imposter Syndrome as a Software Developer
Living with Imposter Syndrome as a Software Developer is difficult and most people don't know that they're experiencing it. You might think that you're just not good enough, or that everyone else has better ideas than you do. It can be especially hard if you're in a creative field where your work is simply your own thoughts and opinions. If you suspect that this is what's going on with you, take some time to learn more about it and see if it's the reason for your feelings of insecurity. You may find comfort in knowing that anyone can experience imposter syndrome - no one person is immune to feeling incapable, even when they have been doing their job well for a long time. And while it may take a while for this feeling to disappear, if you follow the steps below it may be possible for you to stop feeling like an imposter in your own mind.
1. Tackle Your Imposter Thoughts Head On
An important thing to know about imposter syndrome is that it's not something that goes away on its own; it's very likely that you'll find yourself continuing to feel like you're an imposter if you don't do anything about it. One of the best ways to combat these thoughts is by simply talking back at them. When you find yourself thinking "I'm not good enough," or "People are going to catch on and see that I'm a fraud," talk back at those thoughts and be as logical as possible. For example, "I may not be the most experienced developer but I've had my job for two years now and it seems like I'm doing just fine."
2. Find a Mentor
Having an outside person who you can talk to about your feelings is helpful because there will always be someone who will remind you that you're actually doing a good job and who will be able to offer insight when you find yourself thinking in circles. Sharing your feelings with a mentor will also help them understand how they can help you since they'll have a better idea of what your specific issues are.
3. Be Thankful for Your Work So Far
Try looking back at your past work and finding the things about it that you did well. You might find that you did things better months ago than you do now - but that doesn't mean that you're not good enough to be doing what you're doing today!
4. Recognize that People's Judgment of Your Work Isn't Personal
One of the hardest things about imposter syndrome is that you might feel like people aren't judging your work, but rather they're judging you as a person. The truth behind this feeling, however, is that when judgment does come it's only because someone found something wrong with your work - and while they may point out your faults, it has nothing to do with you personally. It can be tough to remember this when you have imposter syndrome, but if you keep it in mind then it's easier to push through the fear that someone is making an accusation against your character. As I mentioned earlier, one of my PRs required around 10 revisions but each revision helped me learn something. The comments made on my PR helped me to reduce the number of revisions required for my future PRs and they helped me to be a better developer.
I hope you found this article helpful. Please let me know if you found any other ways to deal with imposter syndrome and if you are comfortable please do share your experience with imposter syndrome as well. It will make me and other developers out there feel more confident.
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