Impostor Syndrome

So you’ve had a bad day/week/month at work and the though is floating around your head that “maybe I’m not cut out for this”, “why am I here”, “I don’t know what I’m doing”, etc. It’s happened to me and I know lots of others that have been in the same situation. Welcome to the famed “Impostor Syndrome”. When you enter this industry you will most probably hit a wall early on, it’s inevitable , but you can break through it.

For me, it was actually most of my first year as an employed developer. I was hired with no previous working experience and no degree, and only my self-taught bedroom knowledge to my name. Brought on as a backend developer to completely manage a poorly written booking system built on raw PHP, I struggled to get my head around the funky logic that the previous developers had used and how it all fit together.

I would sit there all day sifting through and editing files to see if it made a difference to what I was seeing on the frontend. I would go home stressed because I hadn’t gotten done what I needed to for that day, and would often end up working through the evening and into the night, unpaid, trying to understand the code because I didn’t want people to realise that I was struggling.

I gained a lot of self-belief when I hired my first junior. Being able to answer questions really made me feel like I ACTUALLY knew what I was talking about. You don’t really realise that you aren’t just “winging it” until you say things out loud have to confidently explain them to someone.

I’m now 4 years into my career as a developer, and I’m the frontend lead at the agency I work for, with a team of developers beneath me that use me as a constant source of knowledge and reinforcement of their own ideas. My advice would definitely be to discuss and question the things you’re doing, and actually believe in yourself. Sounds cliché, but if you don’t believe in yourself, how can you expect anybody else to believe in you?

There’s a lot of posts on this subject from other developers, but I think they are extremely important in our industry as it’s incredibly easy for confidence to be knocked when things don’t go to plan or overwhelmed by the ever evolving web technology. Knowing that this wall exists for so many people, and that it’s definitely possible to get past it given enough time and perseverance.

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