Is coding really for me? A question that is asked by many!

Have you ever felt like you just aren’t smart enough to become a programmer? you’ve probably had enough of the “Frustration is part of the process” pep talks, you just can’t help but think that someone will figure out that you’re an impostor , you’re not cut out for this field. You’re not the only one who feels like this, Impostor Syndrome is an enemy to programmers of all levels.

What is Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome is the feeling of “inadequacy that persists despite evident success.” When you start learning how to code, you will encounter challenges that will make you doubt yourself, impostor syndrome will make you minimize your accomplishments all the time, feel a lot of self-doubts even when you ARE objectively good at what you do.

Almost all developers struggle with imposter syndrome at some point in their careers, especially those who changed careers . It’s natural with the amount there is to learn, the diverse educational experience of people in the field, and the ever-evolving landscape of programming. Knowing that imposter syndrome is widespread is part of the battle — you aren’t alone in this, and it doesn’t mean you are actually unqualified.

I’ve worked with a senior developer of 15+ experience, he’s one of the best front-end developers I’ve met, yet he still worried that he knows way less than everyone else. Comparing yourself to other programmers of different backgrounds and experiences strengthens that feeling of fraudulence, so does moving into a new role or receiving new opportunities.

Tips for Overcoming It

Reframing your thoughts to blame imposter syndrome rather than accepting that you’re actually incapable is one strategy for managing it. In fact, imposter syndrome may act as a motivator that drives you to keep learning. Sharing your experiences may help as well, chances are the person you share your feelings with has felt something similar and can empathize with you.

Only compare yourself to your previous self. Nobody else. Focus on your growth. Everyone else is starting with different base knowledge and experience. It’s unfair to hold yourself to anyone else’s pace or level of knowledge. You’re different, and that should be celebrated. You have awesome skills and experiences that are unique to you.

It can be helpful to keep track of your progress. Look back on old projects: how much has your code improved? You can look back on that when you have a tough day. It’s so important to remember your milestones, your success, especially when you’re at a difficult point in your learning or at work.

In addition, work on facilitating a growth mindset, a term coined by Dr. Carol Dweck. It’s amazing that as programmers we can keep challenging ourselves and learning new things all the time. Your knowledge level isn’t fixed – you can keep expanding by learning more. Believing that is a huge part of the battle. Be persistent through challenges and when programming gets hard, that’s how you grow. If you aren’t challenging yourself, you probably aren’t growing. Having that mindset can be another way to push through imposter syndrome.

Imposter syndrome often leads to a fear of failure. But, in programming, failure is necessary. There isn’t a developer out there who hasn’t programmed a bug at some point, and red error messages are a constant. I remember when I started coding thinking that I was messing up every time I got one. Nobody is perfect, but error messages are perfectly normal.

Programming is hard, finding the right answer won’t always be immediate. Getting used to failing, getting stuck, seeing error messages, and battling with a difficult bug is all a huge challenge. So is building a career in an industry where everyone’s knowledge is different and always expanding. Imposter syndrome is very widespread, you aren’t the first or last person to struggle with it. Come up with strategies to help you cope with it, and above all, be kind to yourself .

Resources: https://hbr.org/2008/05/overcoming-imposter-syndrome