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Josefine Schfr
Josefine Schfr

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What Situations trigger your Imposter Syndrome the most?

I've been thinking a lot about impostor syndrome lately - when I got started in web development, I was sure once, I just knew more / had more experience / figured out that one problem, it would magically go away.

Well. Of course, it didn't 🤷🏻‍♀️

Many days, I'm doing fine and I found ways to live with it. Other days I feel like I'm stuck waist-deep in a puddle of misery and am very sure I will get fired any second now - as people are bound to find out that I have absolutely no clue what I am doing.

What situations trigger your impostor syndrome? Have you identified patterns?

For me, anything that remotely (very remotely!) questions my job security definitely sparks lots of anxiety. And, unfortunately, being confronted with new tasks or problems. I am exceptional at convincing myself I should undoubtedly know this - and that not meeting this expectation makes me less of a developer / an imposter.

How about you?

Discussion (23)

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silviaespanagil profile image
Silvia España Gil

I've a couple of things, but there's one that is so silly. When I'm able to do something and I think it was "easy" I automatically think I did it wrong, and that in the PR my peers are going to think wth did she did! 🙈

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diarselimi profile image
did

I relate to this :/

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

For me it was always people physically standing around in a circle talking programming. It triggers some shyness in me no matter what, but especially early in my career it always felt like it was a bunch of people talking about things which I had no idea about. Like, if I can't Google for this stuff I have no hope in this environment and I desperately hope nobody tries to ask me about any of it.

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diarselimi profile image
did

I feel similar, although for me instead, this makes so much pressure that I forget everything I know :|

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nunoa21 profile image
NunoA21

I feel you mate, I had the same issue in the beginning of my career.
When we still have little, to no experience, we tend to compare ourselves to someone far above our level (to be honest, there will be many times where that happens, but you'll always break through that), but there will come a time when you'll have a better understanding of how stuff work.
Also, your curiosity will begin to call you to some blogs and news, related to programming, like this one. :)
By experience, I've learned more about programming more due to my curiosity, and perhaps it will always be like that :)
Give yourself time, be curious, we evolve more when we have fun and find things more enjoyable. :)

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thomas_sweet profile image
Thomas Sweet

You really made a great point when you mentioned job security. I think my impostor syndrome is most prevalent when I feel like my job is in jeopardy. For that matter, any type of insecurity will trigger it. Most often those insecurities come from things out of my control.
The first step in combating these feelings in my experience is acknowledging the things I have no control over at that moment. For example, I don't have control over whether or not I will still have my job tomorrow. I don't have the ability to magically acquire the skills I need for a daunting task. I don't have the knowledge and experience that I feel I need to complete a task or meet my own expectations.
AND THAT IS OK
What I can learn from these things and how can I take advantage of my own impostor syndrome? These feelings reveal to me where I have space to learn and grow. They can help me set clear goals for myself to work towards. If I am patient with myself, I can learn to put these things into words. Ideally, I can then seek out the help I need to reach my goals.
This has been said many times, but communicating my feelings has almost always been the most beneficial thing I could have ever done. As we hopefully have realized, 99% of developers experience these feelings regularly. So being open about our struggles can help us immensely in calming our fears and finding solidarity. It will also open conversation to reveal how others can help you and also show you how you can help others. Even if your technical skills are inferior to others, something that is not acknowledged enough is that being a developer is so much more than solely being a coder. There are so many different soft and hard skills that you might have, that no other person on your team has. These things often only are revealed when we start communicating our fears as well as our passions.

That said - I had a job once, where I risked being honest about my fears and feelings of being an impostor. I ended up being fired from that job eventually for not being fast enough at my job and not having enough output. But I would not change a thing. If you are part of a team that does not allow you to have faults and does not encourage talking about your failures or even your fear of failure is not a team I recommend you continue working with. Do you know how they say "choose your friends wisely"? The same goes for the team you work with and the companies you work for. I know it is not always easy to just risk your job, especially when you have a family to feed or are just getting by in your personal life. I am not sure I have a complete answer for that.
But after being fired, I realized that I am so much better off than if they hadn't. Now I work in a team of people who are open, honest and so helpful. Acknowledging and communicating my fears helps those around me know where they can challenge me, it helps my team communicate their expectations and helps us agree on what is and isn't possible. My insecurities are met with constructive insight, that gives me a reference to measure my skills and my progress.
The steps we can take are always risky. The way our fellow developers and bosses react to the steps we take says more about them than about you.

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josefine profile image
Josefine Schfr Author

Wow, Thomas - thank you so much for sharing this, really appreciate it 🙏 Kudos to you for being so brave and open, that must have been difficult in a work environment where it was not valued. I love what you said about things being outside our control and having to accept that. In the end, that's what it comes down to, isnt?

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thomas_sweet profile image
Thomas Sweet

Thanks Josefine :) Yes, I think there is so much value to be had and so much to learn from the situations where we feel most afraid and unqualified. That is where we grow and where we can start to define who we want to be as people and also as developers or whatever we happen to be doing professionally. In my opinion, fearing the things that are out of our control is what holds us back the most instead of taking advantage of great opportunities to grow.

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thomas_sweet profile image
Thomas Sweet

That said....@josefine this meetup I am supposed to do next week is REALLY giving me impostor feelings....I have no idea what I should present and no idea how to either. Feeling very nervous about this one :D

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monicafidalgo profile image
The Coding Mermaid 🧜‍♀️

Wow @thomas_sweet thanks so much for sharing such an honest testimonial! Truly appreciate it!

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thomas_sweet profile image
Thomas Sweet

Thanks @monicafidalgo ! I hope this topic can be something we are all more open, honest, and vulnerable about so hopefully everyone can benefit from each other's experiences!

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rollergui profile image
Guilherme

Whenever someone talks to me at work about something in a way that makes me feel like I should know that already. They say it in such a casual manner that is like "so, do it this way, which OBVIOUSLY you know, cause you've been programming for, what, 5 years?"

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josefine profile image
Josefine Schfr Author

absolutely, this is so terrifying! Or people actually saying "every developer knows this" or "Can you even call yourself a developer if you don't know x" 🙄

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thacken profile image
Chris Thackrey

For me it’s explaining what you do to people who don’t code at all, especially because it feels like there are more and more stereotypes flying through the air that you have to squash as that convo plays out.

One time I told a physical therapist what I do after she had asked and then she said “hey [her coworker] did you know Chris is a software engineer isn’t that for like super smart people?”
The coworker guy went into this whole thing about: “yeah well you know there’s some really good coders and then a ton of really bad coders and I’d have to know which one he is before I’m gonna give him props..”.
I think most here would agree that’s a pretty sh*t way to handle that question, and reveals some insecurities of his own, but it still sends tons of waves of imposter syndrome through me when I think about that moment and how I really didn’t have any way to prove on the spot I was “one of the good ones” and just brushed it off like I didn’t pay attention to what he said.

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josefine profile image
Josefine Schfr Author

ugh, how unnecessary. Yes, in every job, I guess you could say there is a spectrum of more or less qualified people, taking many many different factors into account. But what a way to phrases this, sorry that happened to you!

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raibtoffoletto profile image
Raí B. Toffoletto

Whenever I need to update my CV 😅😅. But mainly because although I've been coding since my teens in the late 90s I've been working in the Industry only for the past two years and have no formal education on it. So my three music degrees always make me feel a bit as an amateur, although I keep constantly improving and learning.

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crowdozer profile image
crowdozer

When something is completely blocking my progress, but I don't know what search terms to use to find the solution... then after hours of trying various phrases and descriptions, I have to give up for the day 😓

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josefine profile image
Josefine Schfr Author

ohhh that's the worst - happens to me so often that I feel like i'm simply lacking the 'vocabulary' to even search for the problem. But so many times, coming back refreshed the next day already makes a big difference.

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henriquecustodia profile image
Henrique Custódia

I feel like that when I see someone that don't have as much experience as me in programming achieving a better job than me. I know who achieve it probably deserves so much I feel like I'm not enough...

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mistval profile image
Randall

I am fairly confident in my coding skills and I haven't felt like I was performing poorly in a long time, when it comes to code. But I feel kinda bad at being a "lead engineer", even though people tell me I'm doing well. I'm not that organized, I don't like meetings, and I don't think I'm good at mentorship. You could say that any sort of planning meeting makes me feel like a doofus.

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fernaned profile image
Fernando Ed

It may sound weird, but when I am getting praised my head starts to itch and I feel uncomfortable

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zionnaire profile image
Zionnaire

When I see elderly people in their 60s and 70s still struggling to make ends meet...I quickly reminds myself that hope I know these too once had aspirations and ambitions.
Is it that they didnt work hard or smart?

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forgamertt

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