I’ve probably suffered from impostor syndrome throughout a large part of my personal/career endeavors (I just didn’t know it was a thing). Looking back, I suppose it’s not hard to understand why. I have a history of stretching way beyond my comfort zone and biting off way more than I can chew.
I never finished college, and at 18, went head-first into a pretty successful career that had me going from being a timid girl working in accounting, to being a VP of Marketing with a lot of responsibility and direct reports. Then I got this crazy notion to teach myself to code, and got my first “real” developer job in 2007 (a job I still work at part-time to this day). Two years ago I decided to learn an entirely new stack, which brought about entirely new waves of impostor syndrome — and now I’m about hip deep into getting my own startup off the ground and launching my first app.
Fighting impostor syndrome for me has been a consequence of either being a late starter, or choosing to go down riskier paths, and the discomfort caused by doing so. The “fake it ’til you make it” thing. Pushing outside of my edges always brings about deep self-doubt initially, and then eventually I find that perseverance overcomes, thankfully! I’ve never quite felt entirely comfortable, or entirely confident while stair-stepping my way to new places, and yet somehow I've continued to do so. I’m also someone who has spent years performing on stage in front of crowds, with terrible stage fright, too — so go figure! I mention that because the feelings are somewhat the same for me.
In addition to all of these experiences of my own, I have so many questions about this topic!
Why does impostor syndrome seem to be so prevalent among software developers in particular? Is it really experienced more by software developers compared to other professions, or are we just more aware, and talking about it more? Is it because we are confronted more with what we know or don’t know on a day to day basis compared to other professions? Is it the constantly changing, ever-morphing vast universe of things to know within the technological landscape? Is it because we BUILD things that are visible and able to be critiqued so easily, and that there are 100s of ways to solve the same problem and the “right” way is always debatable?
What about personality? Is software development a career that attracts more people who tend to have impostor syndrome tendencies for some reason? The reason I ask that is because I did feel some of the impostor syndrome feelings throughout my career, when I was not a developer. Having worked extensively as both a marketing professional and a developer, I can say that although I’ve had some moments where I felt impostor syndrome as a marketer (in the presence of those who I considered marketing geniuses, no doubt), I do feel it way more on a day to day basis as a software developer.
Isn't this impostor syndrome stuff more self-inflicted amongst ourselves as peers? I mean, do our end users care at the end of the day, if things work well, whether or not we "knew all the things"?
Is it possible to have a healthy dose of self-awareness, without the fear of being found out (whatever that means!)? I mean, it’s okay to not know everything…to not have all the answers, right? I am definitely proud of the fact that I’ve been able to Google my way to building things that work.
It helps knowing that I’m not the only one who suffers from this affliction, though, so I’m appreciating this thread a lot. It's great to hear everyone's stories. Thanks.