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Mission Impostorble: How I'm Coping With My Impostor Syndrome

amlane profile image Amanda Lane ・4 min read

Something I didn't talk about in my first blog post recounting my first week at Lambda School, is how much I was struggling with Impostor syndrome. Even though I was absorbing the material and completing my assigned projects, being surrounded by so many talented people who have been studying code much longer took it's toll on me fast. I want to share with you what is helping me move past my own self-doubts.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, try a few of these simple ideas and share what works for you with others:

Pair Program

Pair programming isn't just a programming study group (although those are fun too!). Pair programming is when 2 developers work on one project together. The first programmer is the "driver" and explains what they want to see happen. The second programmer will type out the code for what the driver wants to happen.

A nice way to break into pair programming is to have another developer view a project you're working on and have them advise you of what changes they want to see. Here's the before and after of my my project, respectively:

before and after photo of a survey form project

The point of this exercise wasn't just to make my project "look better." It helped test and grow my knowledge base of CSS properties by having another student tell me to make a change that I wouldn't have thought of trying.

Put in the reps

if (my code knowledge < I want it to be) { return Study more!};

When I feel insecure about something I remind myself that it's a message from my unconscious mind telling me it's worried about our survival. When I was insecure about my body, I started following a healthy exercise/diet routine. Using that same logic, if I'm feeling insecure about the knowledge I have, I should practice good study habits and have a good routine if I want to improve that part of my life.

Admitting your weaknesses and working on them is the epitome of personal development.

Accept that time travel doesn't exist

I've beat myself up too much for not being farther along in my journey to learn code. There's been several times I almost went to school for Computer Science but it didn't work out. I'm realizing that until now I wasn't ready, mentally and physically, and that everything I've been doing up until now has actually been preparing me to make the most of this experience.

Do something to improve your mood at least once a day

I learned that my mindset was the real culprit. I had to realize that I am 100% in control of my reaction to my impostor syndrome in order to really squash it.
This is something you'll have to experiment with on your own through trial & error to find what works for you.
What works for me: I have to make sure I get exercise, spend time outside, and have a positive daily mantra to use when I notice I'm starting to spiral into a shame spiral of impostors syndrome.

Connect with me on Twitter and join me in the #100DaysOfMotivation challenge (or however many days you want to commit to). Let's lift each other up!

Understand that everyone struggles with it

Who doesn't struggle with feeling like they aren't good enough or don't belong? I know I do. Even as I write this now, I'm struggling with the feeling that I'm terrible at writing and why would anyone want to read my blog posts? (I'm on my usual third draft)...
The best thing you can do is express those feelings. After my first JavaScript class at Lambda School my brain literally hurt. I felt like everyone around me was flawlessly iterating through arrays while I was struggling with basic syntax issues. (FYI: Later on I found out my classmates were also struggling but putting on brave faces.)

Feeling almost defeated, I tweeted:

Reading responses like "ACCURATE", "OMG Yes", "Where is the lie?" gave me so much encouragement (and lol's). Finding out other developers in the community relate with my struggle made me feel apart of something and that what I am experiencing is completely normal.

Please let me know if any of these tips worked for you or what you do to help you cope with your impostor syndrome. I'd love to hear about your experiences and join you on your journey through learning code.

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