DEV Community

Michael Di Prisco
Michael Di Prisco

Posted on

It's good to feel like an imposter. My story and my thoughts about Imposter Syndrome and how I deal with it every day.

I've been feeling an imposter for my whole career.

Well, some of you may say: You've been working in the industry for just 6 years, it's ok to feel like so, you just started! and that's true.

Who Am I

This section is not about trying to look good, is just to give you a background in order for you to understand the rest of the post.

I'm Italian, living and working in Italy, where the average salary is one of the lowest in Europe. Where sanity works half of the time, where people can't find a job before 25 as they are considered "kids" and can't find a job after 35 because they are "too old".

I’m 26 and I’m the Tech Lead of a company and a Senior Consultant in another, my salary is ~2.5x the italian average and I receive offers from all around the world.

At 26, I finally found my place in the world: I’m leading a small team of developers and non-technical people, building and designing software architectures and agency-wide workflows from logistics to customer care, organizing a whole industry with the help of our founder and another team member.

As you can see, I ain’t Bill Gates, but I clearly know how to deal with tech, business and everything in between at a pretty decent level, or I wouldn’t be where I am now.

But maybe..

It’s mostly luck, isn’t it?
I accomplished so much in a short time, and still, I think about myself as a fraud. Even now that I'm talking about my career and my personal achievements, I still think there was someone else best suited for what I consider mostly luck.
But you know what? I’m an Imposter.

But hey.. There are so many topics online, even here on dev.to, about how not to feel like an imposter and how to fight this syndrome, didn’t you read those?

Oh man, I did, I probably read at least 100 articles about imposter Syndrome and how to deal with it.
Yet, I have another opinion about it.

It’s good to feel like an imposter.

First thing first: what is the imposter syndrome?
From Wikipedia:

A psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a "fraud".

After reading that statement, I think of myself as a fraud even more than before, and let me tell you.. This is a strength for me.

What? Why can this be good for you?

Because you will constantly feel the need to learn more, improve your knowledge and prove yourself. That's how it works for me, at least.

Whenever I feel like an imposter because I'm doing a job I don't think I'm qualified for, I'll spend hours, days, weeks studying and working on that topic until I reach a considerable amount of knowledge about it so I can feel a little less like a fraud.

People talk about the Dunning-Kruger Effect, the dangerous effects of over-preparing and over-engineering stuff, the fact that "you will improve and things will get better", but they won't. You can try to talk to yourself and say "hey, you did something, it was valuable, you achieved something!" but a minute later your brain will remember you there are at least 500.000 developers who could have done a better job. And you know what? That’s fine.

I never hoped for my career to fly so high I couldn't even look at the ground anymore, have enough money to buy Versailles, have enough knowledge to build the next Google, or Microsoft, or whatever other IT company will reign in the industry. I just want to be a developer and have fun as I do it. I just want to learn because I want to learn, and not because I have to be the best in everything. Feeling like an imposter helps me keep my feet on the ground, remember who I am and where I started, be humble, ask for help and study as much as I can. And maybe, one day, I'll look back at my career and I'll say:

Hey, it wasn't a fraud after all. You, in fact, were really good, you just didn't understand it yet.

And even if my brain will still remember me I was only lucky and, in the end I'm just an imposter, it's fine, because it will force me to remember who I am.

I really hope it will encounter your personal experience and allow you to think about this syndrome as a strength, and not a weakness to vanquish.

Discussion (0)