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Discussion on: I'm An Impostor

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jfbrennan profile image
Jordan Brennan • Edited on

Imposter syndrome is a dumb idea invented by people who want to sound smart on LinkedIn. I hate it! It needs to go away.

It's called doubt. The word is "doubt" people and it's completely normal. Everyone who ever started anything hard (like a career in tech) has had doubts. To anyone wrapped up in this imposter syndrome fad:

You belong wherever you are and you will grow! So shake it off and go get it done!

Someone will always be smarter than you and unintentionally make you feel like an amateur and, in time, you will make others feel the same. It's part of the natural course of growth. Just remember to be patient with yourself now, and patient with others when they are standing where you currently are.

Btw, the MDN Array docs are like 80% of my browsing history too haha

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codefinity profile image
Manav Misra

Regarding browser history lookups - I have managed to reduce those a bit and have my 'go to' snippets saved in VS Code with thiscodeworks.com/user/dashboard

Regarding rest of the points, yeah, 💯. Takes time and patience.

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Ashley Kolodziej • Edited on

I wouldn’t be so quick to say doubt is the only cause of these feelings. The idea behind being an “imposter” is that you’re playing a role you don’t believe you fit in. This could be from a knowledge perspective, but it could also be because you look, think, act, or come from a different background than the people around you and your role models. Or, maybe your expertise is not as “highly valued” as others. For example, my expertise is in frontend development - HTML, CSS, JavaScript - but I still hesitate to own that knowledge and call myself a frontend developer because my background is in design, and the parts of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript I am best at reflect that.

I won’t lie, I even feel out of my depth posting here. My peers at my employment level are all male, I’ve never had a female mentor or manager, and I grew up without internet access at home, so my story of growing up in web development is not the same as most others my age. I relate to a lot of this article, but I don’t think it’s because I doubt myself. I think it’s because others, whether they realize it or not, inherently doubt me, and when you live in that world, it wears you down as you simultaneously fight those assumptions while trying not to internalize them.

I just read this great article (hbr.org/2021/02/stop-telling-women...) about how imposter syndrome can be a harmful term, because it places blame on the victim for feeling those doubts, instead of addressing where the doubt comes from (unhealthy cultures, biases, etc). Over the past few years, I think we’ve done a good job bringing this experience to light and normalizing talking about the fact that it is happening. It sounds like we’re now in a good spot to move on from that and start pushing to examine why it happens in the first place, so we can reduce it.

Also, RegEx is the actual worst. I’m convinced it’s impossible to learn. I can get a handle on just about anything except RegEx.

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kwstannard profile image
Kelly Stannard

You may enjoy this thing I wrote.

dev.to/kwstannard/why-not-regexp-563

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mungojam profile image
Mark Adamson

On regex, if you have got the basic concept, check out regex101.com. I use it every time now.

It will break down any regex pattern into its parts and explain each bit. It also has a nice interface for testing them

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jfbrennan profile image
Jordan Brennan

Thanks for sharing, I'm a frontend dev too!

You know, you are very lucky to come from a design background because after a couple more years of coding you will begin to unintentionally and unknowingly make other engineers working on frontend feel out of place because you can code and design. You will make others doubt whether or not they are worthy to work on the UI since they suck at design.

I hope you are okay with this because there is NOTHING wrong with any of that. Nobody is a perfect fit. Some person or some circumstance somewhere will do or say something intentionally or unintentionally that makes you feel that way too because at every company and in every level of your career, including CEO (probably even more so!), there is going to be an inner monologue. A healthy mindset looks inward and says, "I'm not a victim. In fact, my unique challenges have only made me stronger. I don't need or want a scapegoat because I am the commander of my ship and I will get to where I want to be despite storms, pirates, or mutiny!" and then moves on. An unhealthy mindset dwells on victim doctrines like Imposter Syndrome looks externally and says, "Life is so unfair! Somebody needs to fix this for me and then I can progress."

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DarkWiiPlayer

after a couple more years of coding you will begin to unintentionally and unknowingly make other engineers working on frontend

Absolutely! To me, programming is nothing special; you just learn a bunch of stuff and apply it, but design, that's where the real magic happens and I can only watch in amazement how some people can come up with an awesome UI design when I can't even get a button to look right without just copying something from an online template.

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DarkWiiPlayer

I think it’s because others, whether they realize it or not, inherently doubt me

It's completely normal to doubt people until they somehow prove what they're capable of. Picking up on this doubt and internalising it might just be a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy: you feel like everyone doubts you, so you become very careful in expressing your opinion, so the others never get to see what you're actually capable of.

Maybe this is a matter of some internalised misconceptions about what a programmer should and shouldn't be like, or maybe it's simply a matter of personality. Either way, showing others what you're good at is the only way for them to know, and to break out of the loop.

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Michel Renaud • Edited on

I think the first time I heard of "imposter syndrome" was here on Dev.to, and I've been a member for less than two years. I've been frequenting online forums since 1988.

I agree with your use of "doubt". I've been doing this for more than 30 years and still doubt myself sometimes (it's hard to keep up in this fascinating but ever-changing field; how many new versions of this or that or new frameworks came out while I was typing this post?), but "imposter" is certainly not a word that ever came to mind.

Every single week I have this, "argh... I don't think I can solve this one" moment. Well, the number of times that was the case I can probably count on my fingers. As you said, shake it off and go get it done.

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bytebodger profile image
Adam Nathaniel Davis Author

The term does seem to have come into fashion only recently. And it's a stupid - and potentially harmful - term. Thank you for adding your perspective!

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Tom Streeter • Edited on

A 1978 academic study of self doubt among 150 high-achieving women.

It’s not new. It’s not trendy. It’s not a clinical term,. It is, however, often how people react to working in environments where people are willing to spout off on things they don’t understand .

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Steve Harris

It may not be new, but it has become trendy. everywhere I have looked the past few months I have seen "imposter syndrome"

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leob profile image
leob

Spot on, the incessant "impostor syndrome" hype gets really tiresome, let's abolish it ... maybe people won't like it when you call it a fad, but I think you're right - it's just "doubt", or the simple fact that there's more that you don't know than there's what you do know - it's normal, and fine, let's stop exaggerating these things people!

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emirryhn profile image
Emir

Nice perspective!

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maco profile image
Mackenzie • Edited on

I think of doubt as a normal thing everyone experiences and imposter syndrome as a thing that comes from having others belittle your skills over and over. The term was created specifically to talk about women's experiences because it's a product of misogyny.

Shorthand:

  • If it arises from entirely internal factors, it's just plain old doubt.
  • If it's based on external factors (eg other people always wanting a second opinion because they don't trust your opinions), it's impostor syndrome.
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jfbrennan profile image
Jordan Brennan

I have had my opinions ignored and debated by others countless times. I can accept my piece of humble pie and move on or I can look for reasons why people aren’t treating me like the center of the universe.

I have also:
Been passed up for promotion.
Had a bonus reduced.
Rejected for jobs I was 100% perfect for (or at least I thought I was).
Lost my job.
Been at a dead end job.
Sucked at my first job - big time!
Bored to death at another job.
Surrounded by people I don’t relate to (and at more than one company too).

And on and on the external factors go. All these things make me go, “Geez, I don’t know...maybe I’m not as smart as I need to be. Maybe I’m in over my head. Maybe I should start gaming so I fit in more.”

Those are called doubts. Everyone gets them and they come from all kinds of places and people. We can choose to just move on and grow or we can dwell on them and stagnate while we wait for others to fix it.

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Trent Haynes

I first heard of imposter syndrome sometime around 1994. That fad is probably older than a chunk of the people on dev.to.

BTW, Imposter Syndrome !== Doubt. There is a difference.

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makeshift_name profile image
Alex Longsdale

100% agree. To many people are pushing imposter porn as I like to call it.

It is nothing new and it doesn't help people grow and get better rather they revel in it.

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bytebodger profile image
Adam Nathaniel Davis Author

Beautifully said!

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dvddpl profile image
Davide de Paolis

when 5 years ago i first read about Imposter Syndrom, i was blown away with a warming feeling of relief. now whenever i encounter someone mentioning his Imposter syndrome I ... want to puke..

as you said. it just a fad, it is just a nice wrapping of the concepts of doubts.
imposter syndrom is, well, just being aware of your shortcomings and being humble.
it's a new fancy way of the Socratic paradox "I know i know nothing"

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mungojam profile image
Mark Adamson

I'm a bit confused by the reference to it as a fad. I've heard and used it for around 10 years I think. Scott Hanselmans blogged about it around that time.

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dvddpl profile image
Davide de Paolis

It's not that the syndrome is a fad. The fact that everybody now has it, and has to Blog about it is. ( not referring to this post of course!).
BTW I found out of the Syndrome exactly from Scott's post, and it blew my mind.