Photo by Mishal Ibrahim on Unsplash

Imposter Syndrome WTF

Thu Mar 04 2021

Imposter Syndrome is the name for the feeling of "I don’t belong here; I’m not good enough" that many of us know all too well. It can show up anywhere in anyone, but seems to be most often referenced within the Software world. However, it’s not unique to developers.

I am currently in the job-hunting phase of my transition into Software Development, yet I have still dealt with this feeling multiple times. Transitioning into the military I dealt with it. I wasn’t big or strong like my peers. I am not an alpha personality. Yet, I am capable of extraordinary stubbornness, and I continued on.

Each time I was transferred to a different area of responsibility within the military, I felt it. Yet, I believe I can learn (almost) anything quickly, so I continued on.

When I separated from the military into the entirely different world of Civilian and had to find a non-entry-level job for the first time, I felt it. But I had to provide for my family, so I pushed through the piles of applications and eventually landed a maintenance job.

At that job, when I worked alone for the first time, I felt it. But I had no one else to call on for help, so I figured things out on my own. Whether the solutions I came up with were the optimal ones or not, I found out later. But I still found those solutions even though I felt like I had no idea what I was looking at.

And even now, as I search for Software Development jobs, I have felt it. It got especially strong after I had been rejected by a few places and ignored by almost all the rest. I thought, "I obviously don’t stand out; what am I doing wrong?"

The answer frustrated me: Nothing. I was not doing anything wrong. I was checking all the boxes, reaching out to people, not companies, applying to the companies of everyone I reached out to, and doing this several times a day. So I started to think that maybe I’m not as good at coding as I thought. But I knew that was a lie. I am a very talented coder, even if I am inexperienced. All the feedback I got during school said as much and more.

So what was the real answer? My attitude. My belief that this process should be easier than it is, and that I was somehow insufficient because there are difficulties, that was what I was doing wrong.

So what is the solution? It’s simple (though simple and easy are not the same thing): believe in myself. Yes, that sounds like a fortune cookie, but it is true. Proverbs says that what we think in our hearts is who we are. Translation: you are who you believe you are. Are you good enough? Do you know enough? Can you handle this? If you believe yes, then yes. You may not know how yet, but you know you can. However, if you believe no, then no amount of help, training or practice will ever change the fact that you are not good enough, because you will always be only as good as you believe you are.

So, believe in yourself first. The how will come after you have settled that, and you will succeed at everything your hand touches.

Happy coding!