How to deal with your imposter syndrome

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How to deal with your imposter syndrome
harley Ferguson

There will be a time in every developer's career where they experience imposter syndrome.

It's unavoidable.

The more humble and honest you are, the most likely you are to experience it as well. Many of the top developers suffer from the highest levels of imposter syndrome because their egos are so controlled. This is really ironic but a reality.

We're here to break down imposter syndrome. To help us identify, understand and move past it.

Let's dive in.

What is imposter syndrome?

In simple terms, imposter syndrome is the feeling of not being as good as others perceive you to be. One may feel that their skills aren't as good as others believe or that they lucked their way to success.

Obviously this is a terrible thing to experience. It will create negative self-talk, denial of your own abilities and non-acceptance of any successes, due to never feeling like you've earned it.

Imposter syndrome can impact any person in any field, but developers seem to feel it at higher rates than other professions. Let's explore why.

Why do developers frequently feel it?

This industry, as beautiful as it is, has a lot of factors that either help create or add to the feeling of being an imposter.

What do I mean?

  • Rapidly changing technology: The technology landscape evolves quickly, and developers are expected to keep up with new languages, frameworks, and tools. This constant change can make it challenging to feel confident in one's skills and expertise.
  • High expectations: Developers are often expected to solve complex problems, deliver high-quality products and meet tight deadlines. These expectations can lead to self-doubt and the feeling that one is not living up to their perceived potential.
  • Comparison with peers: Developers work in a competitive environment where they may compare themselves to their colleagues, who might seem more knowledgeable or skilled. This comparison can lead to feelings of inadequacy.
  • Remote work and isolation: Many developers work remotely, which can contribute to feelings of isolation and make it more challenging to seek reassurance or feedback from colleagues.
  • Perfectionism: Developers often strive for perfection in their code and may have high standards for themselves. This drive for excellence can contribute to feelings of inadequacy when they encounter challenges or make mistakes.
  • Dunning-Kruger effect: Developers with less experience may overestimate their abilities, while those with more experience become aware of their limitations, leading to imposter syndrome.
  • Lack of formal education or credentials: Some developers enter the field without a traditional computer science degree or come from a different background. They may feel like imposters compared to their peers with more formal education.

How can I overcome it?

Overcoming imposter syndrome isn't the easiest thing as it's largely something that people deal with alone. However, here are some approaches you can take to help manage and overcome it:

  • Recognize the feelings: Acknowledge that you are experiencing imposter syndrome and remind yourself that it's a common phenomenon. You aren't weird or abnormal for feeling it.
  • Talk about it: Share your thoughts and feelings with trusted friends or mentors. Often, they can offer valuable insights and reassurances to help you overcome your self-doubt.
  • Focus on your achievements: Keep a list of your accomplishments and review it regularly. This will remind you of the hard work and dedication that contributed to your success.
  • Stop comparing yourself to others: Each person's journey is unique. Focus on your own growth and progress instead of measuring yourself against others.
  • Accept compliments: Learn to graciously accept praise and compliments, and remind yourself that you deserve recognition for your hard work.
  • Seek feedback: Constructive criticism can help you grow and improve, while positive feedback can build your confidence.
  • Develop a growth mindset: Embrace challenges as opportunities for learning and growth, rather than focusing on success or failure. Find last week's newsletter here to help explore how to build a growth mindset.
  • Set realistic goals: Break down large tasks into smaller, manageable steps, and celebrate small successes along the way.

How can I avoid it?

  • Develop self-awareness: Understand your strengths and weaknesses, and focus on continuous self-improvement.
  • Build a support network: Cultivate relationships with mentors, colleagues, and friends, who can offer guidance, support and encouragement.
  • Practice self-compassion: Be kind to yourself, and recognize that everyone makes mistakes and experiences setbacks.
  • Celebrate your successes: Take the time to appreciate your accomplishments and give yourself credit for your achievements.
  • Develop resilience: Learn to bounce back from setbacks and challenges. View them as opportunities to grow and improve.

Don't let imposter syndrome get the better of you.

​Identify it. Manage it. Overcome it.

See you again next week.