Discussion on: Battles of an Impostor

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Scott Simontis

Melissa, thank you for writing such a beautiful article. I too have suffered from impostor syndrome, and as you listed the risk factors for it couldn't help but remarking to myself "Holy crap I am all these things!" It doesn't help that I never finished my degree because I chose to become an Emergency Medical Technician when I realized I was in danger of failing school. My brief experience as an EMT compounded things as I tried to take it upon myself to solve the problems of my community with all 16 weeks of my training as a medical professional. Looking back today, it was quite a humbling experience, but it took me many years and lots of therapy to reach that conclusion. It haunted me for a while and I spent many sleepless nights wondering if some of my patients would still be alive if I was wiser.

We work in a field that is constantly evolving, possibly faster than ever before. We as individuals cannot hope to learn it all, and over time I have learned to feel liberated by that fact instead of terrorized by it. I tried to learn it all and the results were not pretty: addictions, psych wards and burnout.

If I could give my younger self some advice, it would be to practice self-compassion and focus on the areas that I loved. We don't need to be superheros; if knowledge is not present we can hire others who know those things. And if you find yourself in an environment where that is not possible, I have learned I need to reflect on if I am in a toxic workplace and need to get the hell out for my own sanity.

I have met countless developers who are some of the most self-aware people I know. Self awareness is a beautiful gift and some people never get to experience it. But it can be a danger too, when we are deeply aware of our shortcomings and the reasons they developed. There is no shame in seeking help. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for some amazing therapists and loving friends.

Thank you for such an insightful article on something so relatable. It takes great courage to share your own experiences on the subject and I commend you on your bravery, honesty and writing skills.