Imposter Syndrome

This is my opinion based on my own experiences.

In a recent talk that I did, I touched on how imposter syndrome affects an individual and their working life.
Having suffered with imposter syndrome for a couple of years I think it is a topic that we shouldn’t overlook.

So what is imposter syndrome?

“The concept of describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalise their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud’.”

This is a great summary of what imposter syndrome feels like.
For about two years I consistently worried about what everyone thought about me and my ability, and constantly compared myself to those around me, feeling like I wasn’t as good as everyone else in my role.

Just like the quote says, I could never enjoy my accomplishments, I was too busy focusing on what I didn’t do and what I could’ve done better.
Now I realise that this isn’t a healthy state of mind.

What I should have been doing is looking at how far I’d come since I started coding, and revelling in every little success.
Nothing comes quickly, and everything takes patience and time. But I thought I could cheat all of this.
I thought if I tried learning everything all at once that I’d get there, but this did nothing but burn me out and nothing ended up going in.

Everyone around me had been coding for 5+ years and they kept telling me that it all comes with experience.
I wish I could go back to that version of me and tell her to listen to them.
Tell her she’s fine as she is, and that there is no need to worry, just carry on as you are and everything will work out.

It got to the point where I didn’t think that I deserved to be where I was, despite that fact I’d gone through a four-part application and interview process.

When I voiced my concerns to my family they simply told me that I was at the start of my career, and that I wasn’t expected to know everything! It wasn’t until I was told this that I started believing in myself.

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When I realised this I stopped trying to learn everything at once, and tried to concentrate on what I didn’t know that was essential. This is when I started identifying as a Front End Developer. I decided it was time to stop classing myself as Full Stack and start concentrating on what I was I was good at.

After I did this, it became easier to narrow down what I knew and what I didn’t. The list still felt big, but it was smaller than the original list and that was the main thing.

Since then, I’ve made sure I have a set learning plan which I try to stick to – but I’m only human so it sometimes slips!

The biggest thing to remember that you are in control of your future, and you can start changing things now, there’s no such thing as too late. Doing this changes your attitude, and as consequence, changes your mindset and this is all you need. It will motivate you to channel all your energies into what you love and make it work.

Not listening to that voice in my head that said I couldn’t do any of this was difficult, but now I’m out the other side, and if I hadn’t ignored it, I wouldn’t be writing this blog or involved in the Code First:Girls initiative.
But most importantly, I’m loving my job. I’ve never been as happy elsewhere and I count my lucky stars everyday for where I am.

So if you are feeling this, no matter what stage of your career you are in, it’s important to remember at the end of the day, that you are learning – you have to learn to walk, before you can run.

TL;DR – imposter syndrome sucks, but you will boss your way out of it 👊🏻

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