Imposter syndrome is a phenomenon where people doubt their skills, talents, and/or accomplishments. They have a constant fear of being exposed as a fraud, and think things like, “eventually everyone will find out that I really have no idea what I’m doing.” Even after one gets a job this can still occur, they would attribute getting a job to pure luck.
Most people experience imposter syndrome at some point during their lives. It is extremely common among bootcamp grads, because changing careers involves leaving the comfort zone and being a beginner at something. This is a natural part of learning something new, but that doesn’t make it easy to deal with.
Here are a couple of tips to help deal with imposter syndrome:
1. Help a beginner
Find someone who is just starting out in learning to code and help them with a project or problem. You will be amazed how many things you know, but have gotten used to knowing. You might think “everyone knows this” only to discover that not everyone knows that and you know more than you think! Explaining concepts to people who know less than you is a great way to realize how much you have learned.
2. Ask for feedback
Find someone who knows more than you about coding, and ask for their feedback. Show them a project you have been working on, and ask them for constructive feedback. Chances are they will tell you what you are doing well in addition to where you could improve.
3. Honor your accomplishments
Take some time to reflect on how much you have learned over the past six months or year. Knowledge and skills are built gradually day by day, so progress isn’t always apparent. At some point, you probably were wishing for the knowledge you have now. It’s tempting to look for the next goal without enjoying what you just achieved.
4. Don’t be a perfectionist.
You don’t have to be perfect at something to be good. This is not to say you should have low standards, but realize making mistakes is okay and necessary to learn.
5. Set realistic expectations.
Don’t compare yourself to people who have been coding for over a decade. Focus on being better or faster than you were the day before. You aren’t expected to know everything in the beginning (or ever).
6. Realize nobody knows everything.
Embrace the fact that nobody really knows what is going on. Everyone is just taking their best guess. People with more experience can make better educated guesses than others, but they still make mistakes too.
7. Adopt a growth mindset.
A growth mindset is the belief that your personal qualities are not predetermined, but they are malleable and you can develop them through effort. Failure is a chance to learn something, not a reflection of your worth. Keep this in mind when you are working with others. When you see others succeed you can learn from their success rather than feel threatened by it.
The good news is imposter syndrome occurs when you are outside of your comfort zone. Rarely does true growth occur inside your comfort zone, so the fact that you are feeling imposter syndrome means you are growing and not being complacent! The place for maximum growth is to be the least experienced person in the room, however this is also the most uncomfortable place to be. So when you experience this phenomenon just remind yourself it’s because you are pushing yourself to be better and that this is an expected part of growth.