Impostor!

Dealing with impostor syndrome as a programmer and how to manage it.

In many challenges throughout our professional and personal lives, we are held back by the ugly thought that people like us could never succeed despite what we know. We leave the satisfaction of success to other folks because we do not see ourselves to be anything like the sort of people we see winning.

We quickly become convinced that we are simply impostors or frauds and even credit our current success to pure luck. This strange psychological issue is a phenomenon that can leave anybody in any type of industry feeling like a phony.

Impostor syndrome is especially known to affect programmers at times. This leaves both junior & senior developers hung up on the knowledge and coding tools/languages that they are not too familiar with. They struggle to see their value and negatively compare their skills to the skills of those around them.

Here are a few ways on how to cope and tackle what feels like an unwanted shadow that never leaves your side:

Acknowledge the issue

When you feel like a fake because you don’t know something, you cannot be hard on yourself. Instead, embrace the fact that you don’t know and turn it into an opportunity to learn something new.

A good developer doesn’t know everything but is ALWAYS ready to learn new things. Being upset about the lack of knowledge can possibly be a sign of a good developer in the making.

Keep track of your accomplishments

Sometimes your discouragement comes from comparing yourself to those who are a bit more skillful when it comes to coding. If there’s anyone we should compare ourselves to, it should be the person we were when we first started learning how to code.

We can do so by keeping track of the progress we’ve made and maybe even have highlights of our best achievements. We tend to get so hung up on what we’re doing wrong rather than what we’re doing right. Learning is all part of the process and we won’t be able to grow by beating ourselves up. So always make note of the progress made and try your best to avoid any self-doubt in your head.

Teamwork makes the dream WORK

Being a lone wolf and never asking for help only supports the imposter identity we see ourselves as. Encouraging teamwork can help you grow by asking questions and learning about subjects that aren’t solidified in your head.

When you ask for help and feedback about your work, it becomes clear to those with this developer impostor syndrome that everyone doesn’t know everything.

Creating a team-like environment can help those struggling with imposter syndrome and feel included as part of a team and less like an impostor. There is nothing wrong with learning from your teammates, and you can maybe even educate them on a topic they aren’t too familiar with.

At the end of the day, we’re human beings. The mind can work in the strangest ways and knowing you are struggling with something like impostor syndrome can be the first step of defeating this ugly feeling.

It is a completely normal thing to deal with and it is a lot more common than you might think, even affecting others in different professional careers.

So remember, if you ever feel this impostor creeping up on you, make sure to recognize it, look at your past accomplishments, and never be afraid to reach out to a friend or teammate for help.

Aspiring Software Engineer | Student @ Flatiron School