Dealing with Impostor Syndrome

imposter syndrome

I'm lucky to be surrounded by alot of smart peers both at work and outside of work.

Sometimes being around so many smart tech leads and staff engineers makes me feel stupid. Like I'd ask myself "I've been coding for 4 years now - shouldn't I know how to make a MX record change by now?". Haven't I done this a dozen times in my career?

Everytime this happens, I stop myself. I have to remind myself how far I've come, how much I've grown, and that what I'm experiencing is a far outlier to the norm

And I remind myself by digging through my past. The little code snippets I've left behind. The forum post where I ask how to add CSS to a website many years ago. My own blog and this post that I'm writing.

I capture these thoughts, these notes, because one day I know I'll want to revisit them. And I do, every few months.

I look back at all the things I accomplished. All the memories, lessons learned, and hardships endured.

That's why it's important to be pro-active about self-reflection and self-documentation. Here's how I do it:

  1. I mentor other students, starting their career
  2. I join coding communities and participate in forums. I run my own at TampaDevs
  3. I blog about what I learn. From mistakes I've made and from teachings of people smarter than me

When I mentor students, I'm reminded of what it actually means to be a beginner. I forget how hard somethings actually are when your first learning how to code. For instance, how to change the CSS on a webpage for the first time. Or how to use git and push/pull a repo.

When I join other coding communities, I learn through my peer's learnings and failures. You can learn how so many things work this way - how to build a successful startup, how to negotiate a higher salary, etc. One of my favorite youtubers Mr Beast stated this quote, "You're all learning from each others mistake 24/7, downloading each other, like after a year your 2 years ahead of the guy going solo"

I blog about what I learn from people smarter than me. I can see gaps in my knowledge by having to explain it to someone else. I can immortalize how somethings been solve incase I ever run into that problem in the future

You grow as a person when you learn from someone above you, below you, and at your level continuously

When you do this, you generally don't think about imposter syndrome. Because you rarely ever become stale - you're always learning. When impostor syndrome does kick in, you just look at all the work you've done and you forget about it until the cycle repeats again

By learning in public, you are protecting yourself against impostor syndrome in the future

If you don't have anything to show for years of work you've put in, start doing it today.

Here's some examples of showcasing past knowledge:

  • Create a portfolio website
  • Blog about how you created it
  • Create a fun side project demonstrating all the skills you know, and open source it

Hi 👋

I'm Vincent Tang, a web developer specializing in modern Javascript. This website is my digital garden of notes on backend, frontend, and devops! I'm the founder of Tampa Devs and I also run a coding podcast called Code Chefs