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Impostor Syndrome

or that nagging feeling


I am only talking about that feeling you have as a developer that everyone knows more than you! I am not talking about an actual psychological disorder.

With that out of the way, let's talk about that nagging feeling that you don't know enough or that everyone around you has vastly larger knowledge than you. I have some mentality tips that I use when I feel like this, which is more often than I am comfortable sharing .

First off, they might be smarter than you, just saying. If you work with people who have more experience or education than you it's almost a sure thing. But that's not a bad thing, you should take advantage of that! If you get a pull request denied at least you will learn something, that's a good thing, trust me.

You should at the same time not just take any criticism unchallenged, if you think they are wrong you need to tell them. In the same way as above, you will learn something. Either you are right and can articulate that to someone else, that's a good feeling, or as you are arguing your case you either realise you're wrong or the other person convinces you. In both cases you learn something (hopefully).

It's easy to say that you should take criticism with a smile on your face or that it's easy to argue your case against someone you think is better than you. What I try to think in those cases is that

in the worst case I will have learned something. And you will, it's just not always how to be better at your job or even programming.

From interacting with different kinds of bosses and co-workers I have learned things that I can take with me in life. I once had a boss that could never admit when he was wrong, if he denied a pull request there was only one way forward, me doing exactly what he had requested. You learn a lot of patience when you deal with a person like that on a daily basis. I've had co-workers who were much smarter than me and were willing to explain and help me get better. I've had co-workers who relied on me to help and teach them things.

In all those cases the nagging feeling of not being good or smart enough is there. "How can they know so much?", "Am I telling them the correct things?", "Do I know enough?", "Can I argue my ideas well enough?".

The most important thing I use when I feel this way is to remember that everyone is different. You may not be the best att functional programming, but you are that much better at object oriented programming. You might see things different because you grew up in a different environment than the other person. Your perspective is unique. Their perspective is unique.