The Monsters of Development: Impostor Syndrome
I have been a developer in some form or another for a while.
I have also been mentoring and teaching it for around 6 years, and while there have been many things come and go, apps made and destroyed, the infamous pineapple on pizza wars, one that has remained a steady certainty is… Impostor Syndrome… Almost every single student I have had, has had it at some point. I had it at some point, and still have it sometimes and while it has been much easier to deal with now as apposed to when I first started writing code, it is still hard, and it still shows up.
I wanted to take this chance to write on how I dealt with it, deal with it, and push myself when I am having those wonderful doubts about my abilities with development. But before I get into that, there is a few things I want to say about it in general, or about you. The first thing is, you can do this, nothing is above your grade, nothing is above your ability. Learning to write code is hard, if it was not hard, it would probably pay less and be a lot more saturated than it is. Always remember, that no matter your age, you are here, you have gotten here, and you made it this far, if you can do that. You can do this.
The first step I recommend when being chased by the monster known as Impostorus Syndromus is breathe, I know it sounds cliche, but it works. Remember to stop what you are doing, take deep breathes and relax. It is easy to spiral down a rabbit hole of frustration and stress, but if you stop, breathe, and relax for a minute it can stop that spiral and it can bring you back to the top of the hole.
Step away from what you are doing, usually when you feel like you can’t do it, and Impostor Syndrome starts hitting, it is triggered by something like being stuck, something you have to do, or something to that affect. Step away from it, go take a walk, break dance, play darts, anything to take your mind off what you are doing, and the thoughts of not being able to do it.
Remember that there are people who have done amazing things in this field, that at some point in their journey they werein the same spot you are right now at this exact point, feeling frustrated, unable, and upset. Sometimes even wanting to quit, but they did not. Neither should you. They went on to beat Imposter Syndrome, or at the very least limit its grasp on their productivity. Think about all the people before you that went through this same emotion, you are never alone in what you are feeling. But you can move past it.
The last step I like to tell people is, have fun. So, what you are stuck? Turn it into an adventure and not a hindrance. It is hard, we get it. But you have got this! Step away from what you are working on, write something smaller to solidify that you have some understanding and a grasp of it. You will never know everything, I know it sucks, I used to get upset that I could not know everything, but then I realized I did not need to. I just need to know enough. You only need to know enough to show yourself that you can do this. Always remember that even just a console.log or a print is something that a huge, huge percentage of the population can not do or understand. Yet, you can.
The final word on this, is take it easy on yourself, you deserve your job, your spot, your contract, your career, your future. Sometimes you have just got to get up, and do the robot while saying “I got this” out loud even if it is just saying it to your computer. And always remember there are huge communities out there that are willing to help you. Whether you are stuck, need advice, or just need a bit of inspiration. There are tons of people out there willing to help with it.
My name is Ron, I write code, and I hope you enjoyed this article.