Imposter syndrome is, unfortunately, very rampant in the development world. I'd wager most developers have felt it in some way at one point or another. But just so we're all on the same page, this is the official Wikipedia definition: "Imposter syndrome is a psychological pattern in which one doubts one's accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a 'fraud'."
Basically imposter syndrome is this nagging feeling of not being "good enough" - and that at any point our boss/coworker/client will figure that out and we'll get scolded or, in the worst case, fired.
It's an especially big problem among developers because coding is actually very difficult. There's always a million ways to tackle any given problem. New frameworks and libraries we need to know. And even something as tiny as a semicolon error can be enough to take down an entire application.
This fear alone can be enough for some to not even pursue their dream of becoming a programmer - and that's a huge shame.
So here's my top 3 favourite tips to help you deal with imposter syndrome:
- Realize that almost every developer goes through this. For me it helps to know that I'm not alone in this feeling. And if other, more experienced developers experience imposter syndrome, but still manage to do great work, then I can do it too.
- Look back at your progress. When you've been coding for a while, comparing your past work to your most recent is a great way to see how far you've come. That alone can verify that you're at least moving in the right direction and improving over time, and that you're already better today than you were 6 months ago.
- Remember that you're never done learning to code. Stop seeing programming as something you either "know" or "don't know". Start approaching every challenge as just a minor gap in your knowledge caused by a lack of experience. When you think this way, the obvious progression from imposter syndrome is not that you're stupid or not cut out to be a developer - it's that you just need more experienceto cover your gaps .Which will come naturally just from being a developer.
I hope you can use these tips to deal with your own imposter syndrome, regardless if you're a new or more senior developer.
I could talk about this subject for hours, but I'll end with a quick observation for now:
The fact that you're currently reading this blog post tells me you're not an imposter.
You know what the real imposters are doing?
They're not reading articles or signing up for newsletters or working on side projects.
You'll be fine.
I'm Mads Brodt — a developer, author, teacher, creator and blogger. To keep up with all of my writing, follow me on Twitter or sign up with your email above 👆