It’s something that is often referenced by people as a way of describing the feeling of being a phony, a fake – someone who does not belong. But that’s bullshit and here is why.
You are only an imposter if you claim to be something or someone that you are not. It’s really that simple, if you claim to be someone who is on a path to learning some new trade, skill or talent – you are not an imposter, you are being authentic.
If there is any great sage advice a 29 year old, currently unemployed but hopefully successful future developer can offer you, it is this – No matter the consequences that may befall you as a result, above all else in life – Be authentic. I assure you that being real always pays off in the end, if only for your own peace of mind and for that alone, it is worth it.
Imposter syndrome is something that can truly paralyze a person. People who are afflicted by imposter syndrome typically freeze up, break down or otherwise fail to unleash their true potential and the full scope of their creative mind.
Don’t be that person. When the time comes and you are called upon by your team to perform, you want to be able to deliver on your promises. If you are wondering how that is possible, I’ll tell you – just follow these simple steps:
(1) – Be Authentic:
This was already stated previously but it bears repeating. If, as I no doubt suspect, you are pursuing a career in web development, whether self-taught, Bootcamp or College bound, do not claim to be anything other than what you are. A Student.
The bulk of the trouble that comes from Imposter Syndrome has to do with this unwarranted belief that, as someone who is still learning, you must compete with Senior Developers or even established Junior Developers. This burden that some people put on themselves is false and ultimately a major hinderance to the learning process itself.
Not only are you not competing with those senior to you, you are not even competing with those learning in lock step with you. You are not competing with anyone but yourself! As someone who is still learning, you need to always be looking for ways to build upon past successes and look for ways to learn from past failures.
(2) Be Honest:
It’s simple really, be honest with those around you. If you are applying for a job, be honest about where their are gaps in your understanding of certain concepts or languages and let them know where you hope to improve. This is important for a couple of reasons.
First, it establishes that you are not a know-it-all. Nobody likes a those people, let’s just be honest. It also demonstrates to your team know that you are capable of being self-aware; a quality very important in the context of a team driven workplace.
Second, being honest with your team serves as critical information for both your team and team leader to best determine how to coach and mold you into the future Junior Developer that both of you want. Without a plan of action, result are seldom had.
Third, it roots out potential workplace conflicts from happening in the future. Think about it, what if you go into an interview and pass everything with flying colors. Maybe you do your whiteboard tests no problem and say everything right but there is one hitch – you overplayed your hand and made yourself sound far more experienced than you truly are. What if your team has no patience for coaching and teaching new hires? Where does that leave you? Exactly. Being honest and upfront from the outset serves both you and your new team in more ways than one!
(3) Be Realistic:
Rome wasn’t built in a day, in fact it was built in 1,009,491 days and while it won’t take you the better part of 3 centuries to master your specific field of choice, it most certainly will not happen overnight – this I can assure you.
So show some patience. Show optimism. Show resolve.
This is one of the great things about being a developer, it takes time to master, and the field itself is so dynamic that you are constantly challenged to adapt to your environment. If you find yourself, early on, struggling on some concept or language do not give up. Instead, push on and delight in the reward of overcoming in the face of such uncertainty.
Speaking from personal experience is about all that I can do and I have found that the reward of solving a problem after many hours of relentless googling and trial and error is quite an exhilarating feeling.
So do that.
Be Authentic, Be Honest and be Realistic.
Do these things and avoid languishing in the pool of self-pity and doubt. If you need something to help pull you out of the abyss in a time of tribulation, remember why you chose this path in the first place. Relive the feeling of certainty you had from the outset and the emotions associated with that choice. Think of the rewards to come, whatever they may be to you. And above all else, dispatch with this notion that you do not belong, because you most certainly do.
And get good, because we need good programmers to head off the terminator apocalypse. Super Serious. I’m lookin at you Boston Dynamics. You and your pesky killer robots…