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Using Schrödinger's cat to beat imposters syndrome

rapidnerd profile image George Marr ・4 min read

For a few months now I've had imposters syndrome mainly while being at university, I felt like this had come on because of me being weak at maths which made me self doubt and I never went and got proper help for it. Which left some tolls on me and leading up to imposters syndrome. Before I start I'll explain the two things mentioned in the title

Schrödinger's cat

In 1935 Erwin Schrödinger suggested an experiment relating to quantum physics and psychology. He theorised that by putting a cat in a locked steel chamber along with a deadly device (in this case it was a radioactive atom) until the box is opened it can be thought of both dead and alive.

(Just for clarification I think he never did the experiment just theorised it, no need to call PETA!)

Imposters syndrome

A psychological term that makes the person feel like they have a persistent fear of failing, not being good enough, harshly judging on every action and can sometimes relate to them having a fear of being exposed as a "fraud".

When I first started university I knew the coding portion of it would be fine for me to deal with, then I looked at the maths and remembered that I suck at maths and I'll likely fail it. This is what really started taking a toll, I've never been able to do maths well at all. When it came to course work I would always put it off because of fear of failing, the exams I took about 2 weeks ago petrified me.

Well, all this was until I watched an episode of The Big Bang Theory and this scene made me realise that I need to take a different outlook on everything regarding the math topic. So I devised a scheme that I would be using with Schrödinger's cat and maths by taking two outlooks on every part I do.

I broke it down into parts, remember in Schrödinger's cat the cat can either be dead or alive so I had two columns first one being alive:

Alive

Criteria

  1. If correct goto 2
  2. Check the marking standards
  3. Check with the teacher on how it can be done better/improved
  4. Confer with other students on results and methods

In this situation, if the cat is alive it's a good outcome for me but it also means that more learning can be done as there's always room for improvement

Dead

Criteria

  1. If wrong goto 2
  2. Check procedure against one given in lecture
  3. If correct check answer/workings out
  4. If still correct check with the teacher
  5. If the procedure is wrong compare it against the example given in the lecture
  6. Repeat until I get this right!

In this situation, it starts off badly but instead of dwelling on the fact they may give me a few petty marks or they'll go nice on me I knew I would have to force myself to figure out how to do this because it could be needed in the near future.

Causing self-judgement

Another issue caused by imposters syndrome is the fact I was always comparing myself to my friends, a lot of my friends are some form of developer whether it's web, game, network etc they're all incredibly smart and I found while I was in this rut of imposters syndrome that I would always think that I would never be like them, I'd never be as smart as them, that the places I want to be at I will never accomplish. This was until everything became too much for me and I made a huge mistake. For privacy reasons, I won't say what it was specifically but it was a big mistake.

To fix this mistake I knew I had to get away from a lot of online aspects so that's what I did. Because of imposters syndrome, I had not been looking after my mental health and things progressively became worse over time. So for around 10 days, I stopped writing code as much as I use to, only when required with work and university and I had isolated myself away from a lot of my online activities, spent a lot of time outside instead of online and cleared my mind of negative thoughts to help fix my mental health.

Obviously, my friends had noticed that I had been gone for a while and it was one quote that someone said that has stuck with me since this happened:

stop looking up to us and start looking at us through that sniper scope

(Not literally btw)

The point I am trying to make here is that imposters syndrome can take a very bad toll on your mental health if you don't look after it carefully. Development can become a very stressful environment at times and it is essential that your mental and physical health is taken care of properly. If you feel like you're dealing with imposters syndrome or related speak to someone and get some time off, I was very very pleased to see on twitter a while back that a boss had given an employee off because of mental health (not common with me in my experience sadly).

Just a few days away from things that are bringing your mood down can seriously have a greater impact.

Have you got a similar story? I'd love to read it!
Happy deving!!

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George Marr

@rapidnerd

My curiosity is easily stimulated

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