Reading the title, you might say something is wrong with me. But I dare to repeat it. The impostor syndrome is a developer’s best friend when appropriately managed. I also believe that the impostor syndrome is more prominent in software development due to the large volume of knowledge you need to possess, and the constant changing of tools and programming languages. The programming language and tools you are using today might become obsolete in one year. That means “starting from the zero” (an exaggeration to emphasise the point) again. It is a very dynamic environment where you have to learn continuously. The ones that survive are the ones that can adapt. Thus, it is impossible to get rid of the impostor syndrome. Why not learn to live with it?
WE ALL HAVE IT
Let me tell you another thing. We all suffer from impostor syndrome. There is always someone better than us. There is always something that we do not know. There is always something to learn. A new tool gets released every day. A new technology or programming language emerges every once in a while. You can never learn and know all of them. Trying to keep up is very difficult as well. And that is how the syndrome creeps in. You start asking yourself questions such as “Will I ever make it?”, “Will I ever be able to do x, y, z?”, “Will I know technology x, y, z?”, “What if I am an impostor?”, and the list goes on. The answer is yes, yes, and yes.
By the way, the syndrome is even worse for beginners, who feel they are never going to make it in this field. Been there, done that. You will make it with persistent, hard work.
BUT GUESS WHAT
You are not the only one asking himself/herself those questions. The developer next to you at work has the same questions. The developer you follow on Twitter has the same questions. That YouTuber with 50000 subscribers has the same questions. I have the same questions, even though I have a job and I am doing very well.
You are not the only one with these questions, and you will never be. The impostor syndrome is part of us, and as I said, it is more prominent in our industry. Of course, some people deal with it better, so it is not that obvious they have it as well. But we all got it, trust me.
WHAT SHOULD I DO THEN
First of all, you should know that it can be your best friend because it pushes you to become better. The feeling that you are not made for this industry, or that you do not know enough, could push you to learn more. As a result, you better yourself every day. I use the impostor syndrome as fuel, as motivation to become a better developer, and it works very well. Beware though; it can quickly push you to burn out. Trust me, you do not want that.
Secondly, whenever those questions and irrational thoughts creep into your mind, REMEMBER that all developers suffer from this syndrome. REMEMBER that there is always a developer better than you. But also REMEMBER that there is always a developer that is beneath you. REMEMBER that you can never know everything, and that is fine. You only need to know a handful of tools, which are relevant to your job. With perseverance and hard work, you can become a developer.
Will you become the best programmer? Probably no. Will you work at Amazon/Facebook/Google/Apple/etc.? Probably no. Will you make millions? Probably no. Will you develop the best next thing? Probably no. But guess what? That is fine. You do not have to do any of those to be a decent developer. Actually, most of us never achieve those goals.
WHAT YOU NEED TO REMEMBER
- Everyone has the impostor syndrome
- You can make it in this industry with hard work
- You will never know everything, and that is fine
- There are always developers better than, but there are also developers worse than you
- You do not have to be a “superstar” developer. Being a decent developer is enough