As a web developer, I hear a lot about people struggling with impostor syndrome, that feeling you’re not good enough.
Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome) is a concept describing high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.
- From Wikipedia
Great People Have Impostor Syndrome
Lots of highly regarded people have shared that they battle with impostor syndrome. I find this is often shared with the context of, even these amazingly skilled people have impostor syndrome, it is okay to feel this way. The problem I have with this is,
If this person, who I admire for their many skills, has impostor syndrome, then clearly I am an impostor since I’m not as good as they are.
We’re Climbing the Same Mountain
I try to think of this developer journey I’m on as climbing an infinite mountain. I’ll never get to the top but I try to climb (and get better at what I do) a little each day. It amazes me how far I’ve climbed since I started.
You don’t have to be at the top for a great view.
There are lots of developers out there much better than I, they’re farther up the mountain and I’ll probably never catch up to them. However, there are also people on the mountain who haven’t made it to where I am yet. Impostor syndrome is about focusing on the people higher up the mountain.
My First WordCamp
When I went to my first WordCamps, a small WordPress focused conference, I spent all my time focused on the developers I had heard of. “Maybe they’ll talk to me,” I thought. I lurked in conversations among the people where I wanted to belong. While everyone was very nice, it was clear none of these people who had lots of friends (and fans like myself) vying for their attention was going to abandon everyone else to focus on me. I wasn’t sitting at the cool kids table and it was all rather disheartening. It left me feeling like more of an impostor than ever.
Look at Where You’ve Been
Eventually I shifted my view from staring up the mountain longingly to looking back at where I had been, “Wow, I’ve come a long way from where I started.” I also started seeking out conversations where I could provide value rather than where I wanted things from others.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
Now instead of comparing myself to others, I try to compare where I am now to where I was a year ago (or 2 years or 3 years…). I’ve learned a a tremendous amount in the last year and I suspect you have as well. Keep learning.