Hey you, I am a developer 🙂. I have been building software for about 2-3 years, or maybe 1-2 years, basically I wrote my first back-end code November 2017 and this month is my anniversary. LOL 😎.
Why am I writing this??? It's because I am going through something, it's called Impostor Syndrome. Now the question going through the mind of many is what the heck is impostor syndrome, it sounds like one of these health conditions that are quite difficult to explain. Anyways, it is not.
According to Wikipedia;
Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, impostorism, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their skills, talents or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a "fraud".
You know that feeling where you feel like you are not where you are meant to be, or when you feel your pals are far ahead of you. That is Impostor Syndrome.
As a developer, you would have experienced this sometime in your career. The first time I experienced this was sometime in March 2019, I was in my second year in the University and not so many among my peers were into software development at that time but I had set this high expectation which I was finding hard to meet. It never really went, not until I had a bit of a conversation with myself.
What exactly causes us to think this way?? Here is a list of what I assume could cause it;
- Finding it hard to get a Job:
The moment that we all find very difficult during our software development career journey is landing that first job, Impostor syndrome at this point might hit crazily hard and it could be very frustrating.
During the time I was facing this type of Impostor Syndrome (I.S), I decided to find every means to make my Resume more attractive, got on a personal project with my Career buddy (get yourself one, growing together is the best).
It was an easy project but it was something I needed to get our name in the mouth of a few people. Another thing is making people out there know you are on the lookout for an opening, so they could refer you to any. At this point of my life, I didn't mind hopping on a free job just for the experience because I was desperate to get my hands dirty. Not too long after this I was referred to a startup, I only got paid in stipends but it was a massive boost to my confidence.
This type of I.S is hard to defeat, it feels like the only solution is actually getting a job so I believe searching for jobs in the best way that works for you helps.
- Fear of not being able to contribute convincingly on a project
This is the moment you get a job or gig or maybe a voluntary project and you have the fear you would mess up and embarrass yourself, maybe because you are not as skilled as the project would need you to be.
The good thing about software development is, you can build anything if you are ready to and if there is time (don't kill me if I am wrong, lol). Tough projects help you learn faster, if the pressure doesn't really mess you up though.
The best thing to do at this moment is break the tasks into smaller tasks, make research on how to go by each tasks, if you have senior developers around you, ask them for help and advice. Asking Senior developers for help actually helps a lot because they understand how you feel because they have been there once in their life.
There is one thing about this type of I.S that is quite crazy, this is when you feel your approach to solving a particular problem is not good enough then you do not implement your approach. My advice will be for you to actually implement those approaches in your head and if possible, ask more experienced developers to check it out. It is easier to guide someone that has already started compared to someone who is just procrastinating.
- Getting Queried or Embarrassed
This could be very depressing, let me share a little story. Some time this year, I mistakenly fired a script which corrupted all the data in the staging database and we had a client testing on the staging application during this time, I got loads of messages and calls asking for me to fix a mistake that can't be fixed. I locked myself in the room, switched off my internet, sent a text to a close friend to come check up on me because I was about losing my mind.
The thing is, there are several times you will make mistakes or you won't meet the deadlines for certain projects, this could make the CTO or Project manager scold you in whatever manner they could. This is like a bullet through your confidence and could leave you bleeding for a long time.
The solution to this is getting up and trying hard to get that appraisal you deserve, complete that project, learn from your mistakes, move on. We will all face this sometime in our software career
- Getting fired or resigning from a job because of bad treatment
This has so many effects, one linking to another.
Number one, This could make you feel incompetent, you are left asking yourself 'if I was good enough, I won't have gotten laid off' or 'If I was good enough, I won't have gotten treated badly by the heads at the top' .
Usually, you would want to move on but getting another job could then be harder than you think, you become more desperate and eventually land a job but it doesn't make you happy or it pays less or feels wrong in all ways.
You are in the middle of 'Should I resign' or 'Should I go on till I get another job' then you ask yourself 'What if I don't get a job anytime soon, will I remain here for so long??' . You then begin to consider 'What if I resign, take a break of one month, try hard and learn a couple of things, apply carefully and bag another job' but the little issue in your head is 'I Can't keep drinking Garri with groundnut, even Onions are expensive now'.
The thought goes on and on and on and it is so so annoying, then you hop on twitter and see your peers excited about working or writing articles, spending time with friends happily spending their earned wealth, find friends going out on dates and so on. You are fighting yourself, asking yourself how you can move forward from this.
How do you solve this?? I sincerely do not know because I currently face this, it's hard and overwhelming. It gets worse when you get several rejections from other companies which could be sickening at a point.
Impostor Syndrome is a thing, a very usual thing and trust me you will get out of it, it might not be soon but you will definitely get out of it. Keep hustling, keep getting better, play that song, speak to that friend, read that article, build that project, read that codebase, slowly your confidence will hit the nitro button.
This is your one and only Tay and I just wrote this article in the space of 30 mins from my heart to you, don't feel down. We will spend this dough... one day 😊.