Getting over Imposter syndrome
From time to time I come across problems that seem trivial but turn out to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing kind of thing.
A good example of this is earlier this year(Feb 2021) when I picked up a task to update all our python modules on one of our services. Since we use the poetry package manager for python the easiest way to do this is the command
poetry add <package-name>@latest or
poetry add <package-name>@<package-version>
To cut the long story short, I had to restart this task more than three times because of conflicting packages and eventually ceded the task to a team member to complete it.
My confidence got a big hit. In my head, this was a simple task that I could have disposed of in a day or two. It took me more than a week and I could not hack it. At ALL!
I started doubting my abilities. Negative self-talk. I tried to convince myself that I’m not the programmer type, maybe I’m more of a mechanic type(because I love cars), with machines everything is physical and what you see is almost always what you get. With software, there are so many abstractions and maybe my mind can't handle that…
This is imposter syndrome.
Imposter Syndrome: The Cure
The thing is, you can never fully cure this. It comes and it goes. Sometimes it’s very serious, sometimes it’s mild. If you’re always pushing the boundaries of what you can do and exploring new things, you will definitely experience it.
Here are some of the strategies that helped me overcome:
1. Coding challenges
Picking up a simple coding challenge on Codewars or any other source and completing it helped me rebuild my confidence and self-belief. I worked through one challenge on an almost daily basis. Initially, I picked up very simple ones(8 kyu) and worked up the ranks. By the time I graduated to the next level(7 kyu), I felt way better about my abilities. I’m now working through(6 kyu).
2. Pick up easier tasks
In my team, some tasks require you to make simple text changes. These are the simplest. Alternatively, you can consult your Team Lead or Product Owner to show you the simpler stuff you can do.
3. Accept your short-comings
This is usually difficult. Accepting that you are not as good as you thought you were. However, if you can do this, you will make peace with yourself and so your expectations of what you can achieve will be more realistic.
4. Continue Learning and up-skilling.
Be more intentional about improving your technical knowledge.
Ask more questions, even the obvious ones
Read a technical book
Take an online course
Take on a side project
The more new things you learn, the more confidence you have in your abilities.
5. Avoid nay-sayers.
Block out any negative people who don’t encourage you, teach you, or support you. Block them out. Look for positive places and people who will nourish you instead. I am lucky to be part of such a team (Shout out to all the Ninjas)
Alright, that's it for now. I hope this has helped you. If you have other tips feel free to add them in the comments section also remember to clap :).
Cheers, and stay safe.