Do you have imposter syndrome?

Yes

72%

No

28%

79 votes · Closed

As developers, we all know that our ecosystem moves fast and we constantly need to learn and unlearn things to keep ourselves up to date. Naturally, no one knows everything and everyone is still learning.

I always feel that no matter how much I know, there are always thousands of programmers who are better than me and there is a lot of scope of improvement. So, when someone asks me if I am a pro, I always reply back "I am a learner and there are far more experienced programmers than me". I don't call it imposter, but I know some people who think they are simply not good enough despite of the fact that they are all smart engineers.

What are your thoughts on it? Do you sometimes feel that your knowledge is inadequate?

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Lars Wächter's photo

I total agree with you. There are so many technologies to learn in this world, and they are just getting more day by day. Today you learn a new JS framework, tomorrow comes a newer and better one. Nobody will ever know all of them and be an "expert" in them.

I think one should not compare himself with someone else so often. Especially in this "internet-connected-world" we tend to do so. There are always people who know more than you in a certain field. It would be just foolish to think: I'm the best and no one knows more than me.

Not all of us develop the next Java, hash algorithm, cryptocurrency or search engine and that's good. You shouldn't be so hard to yourself.

I would never call myself a pro, since I couldn't even describe exactly what a "pro" really is in software development. I'm still learning a lot of things and I'm happy about it.

Supposing there's nothing left I could learn out there, where would be the fun?

Sandeep Panda's photo

Co-Founder, Hashnode

Exactly. You should fall in love with the process of learning rather than aiming to become an expert at everything.

Todd's photo

No. If you do have it, I urge you to read the below. I'm going to be pretty blunt, but realize that at one point I had it as well and now I don't.

Imposter Syndrome is selfish and egotistical

Stop focusing on yourself. Stop comparing yourself to others. Start focusing on comparing yourself to past you... Start focusing on learning and doing a better job.

"Imposter syndrome" does nothing good for you and nothing good for anyone else. All it can possibly do is make things worse for everyone. Someone who feels they aren't good enough is either depressed or out to prove that they are good enough. These are both toxic to you and the people around you. The word "pro" doesn't mean "master at everything," it just means "does as a profession" aka "earns money to do." THAT'S IT! This notion that a professional has to know everything is not just absurd, but it's downright flawed. These days, I have absolutely no care about "how much of a master I am." I simply enjoy doing what I do and I get paid to do it.

Focus more on learning, improving, contributing to the team, understanding what the team needs and executing, and less on your status.

At the end of the day, if you feel you are inferior, then you become inferior. Ever heard of the term "self-fulfilling prophecy?"

Read this quote over and over by Michael Jordan:

I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life.

It's completely normal for there to be more experienced and less experienced people in any given field. It's also completely normal for people to learn at different rates. I think that this feeling that is so-called "imposter syndrome" is simply "wanting to be more experienced/skilled." The term is relatively new, but the concept is age-old. There are no real shortcuts in life, you'll get there in due time.

Blaine Garrett's photo

I have 15+ years of professional experience, a Computer Science degree, know several different database engines, a bunch of languages, etc etc and still have to resort to Stack Overflow for a lot of things. It's annoying and humbling.

Joe Clark's photo

I used to. When I was asking a co-worker which specific approach I should take for something, he said to me, "Joe, you're a senior software developer. Do what you think is best." That was the moment I got over feeling like an imposter. It only took 13 years into my career to get there, though.

Gergely Polonkai's photo

The fact i donʼt have enough knowledge doesnʼt mean iʼm an impostor.

Letʼs face it: many project maintainers love to mention the inexperience of new contributors during reviews. Shame on them. Accepting (or rejecting) a change shouldnʼt be about telling me i know nothing about the project. If a maintainer emphasises this over any problems in my code, thatʼs a bad sign anyway. If they tell me my code is not OK because this-and-that, thatʼs great, and iʼll happily fix it. Also, this tells me that iʼm welcome as a contributor.

Thus, impostor syndrome doesnʼt exist for me. If iʼm treated as such, the project is not for me.

Disclaimer: i actively worked on my insecurity a lot. I learned to ignore baseless criticism on my self (and, more importantly, to see if said criticism has some truth in it and apologise if iʼm in the wrong). This helps a lot when dealing with inappropriate maintainers.

Kabir Yusuf Bashir's photo

Yeah, I did agree with you. I constantly feel I have to keep on learning everyday. I try to balance between learning and coding.

Vamsi Rao's photo

I struggle with imposter syndrome a lot. But lately I have come to an understanding, that I'll always feel like an imposter because learning is the only constant we as humans will always have in any field. Something I do to keep it at bay and turn it into an advantage is to always choose to work with a good team in which I can learn something from a senior developer (in case of coding), have an equally experienced dev with whom you can discuss/ grow together and finally have a young dev who you can kind of teach or show how you do things.

Gaponenko Andrei's photo

I do feel this quite often. But that's simply because people I tend to work with are really smart and brilliant software engineers, who have years of experience on me. Then again, people go their different ways when it comes to learning new things. You can't measure everyone by the same universal scale and that's why hiring process is so difficult nowadays.

SelfishMouse's photo

Shame on them. Accepting (or rejecting) a change shouldnʼt be about telling me i know nothing about the project. If a maintainer emphasises this over any problems in my code, thatʼs a bad sign anyway. If they tell me my code is not OK because this-and-that, thatʼs great, and iʼll happily fix it. Also, this tells me that iʼm welcome as a contributor. MyPrepaidCenter

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