Jack M

March 7, 2021

Imposter Syndrome

Every heavily technical person I know has mentioned imposter syndrome at one point or another.  Juniors see senior developers and feel inadequate.  Designers look at websites with teams of fifty designers, and then look more critically on their own work.

My personal struggles stem from simply not having feedback from a peer.  My day-to-day work is on a closed-source, legacy, Perl application.  Not something I can show a Pull Request to other developers and get their feedback.  The only feedback I usually get is that it works in Production or it does not.  Additionally, I often feel like taking on the responsibilities of a small business (sys admin, project management, product ownership, etc), means that I am not a "real developer" as I am not focussed on mastering development.  I could keep listing examples, but those are the big ones.

How do I overcome imposter syndrome?  The biggest help for me is community.  Simply knowing that I am not the only one struggling is very comforting.  There are plenty of folks on Discord, Twitch, Twitter, and many other platforms, where you can find a community to speak with.  With platforms like Discord, you can often jump in and read back a few days and see how others struggle.

I am also lucky enough to find a wonderful human who I have been emailing with.  If you have the opportunity to open up to someone outside your normal circle (or hopefully a mentor) to get feedback, the outside perspective may do great things for your confidence.

Another tactic I've found helpful is to keep track of your accomplishments.  Even tracking small, daily, accomplishments can help you see that you have accomplishments to be proud of.  Even if your entire day is spent in a struggle-puddle, before gleaning the knowledge that allows you to move on, that struggle is valid work.  You learned something; likely you learned several things.  If you get stuck, look back at the wins you had last month.  Or last year.  It may sound silly, but sometimes it really helps.

I also find that putting my thoughts into words helps quite a bit.  Getting if off my chest into the wide world is a strangely comforting feeling.  That is a major part of the reason this is my first blog post on HEY World.  Get it off my chest, put it in words.

I will also point out that if you're reading this, you probably share some of my struggles.  You probably also saw dozens, hundreds, googolplexes 😈 of others suffering from imposter syndrome.  You are not alone.  Keep moving forward, and if the way forward is blocked, don't give up.  Go laterally.  Go diagonally.  It will get better.