Hello World: You Are Not the Imposter

Software developers can break into a plethora of different genres. This can be particularly overwhelming, especially to new developers, who have an intrinsic desire to know everything. The questions begin to arise. What should I study? What should I know? What should I be working on? If I don’t know everything, will I be able to land a job? The root of this is a question all budding developers have asked themselves at least once: “Am I good enough for this?” Here’s what you need to know about imposter syndrome.

You don’t need to know everything.

Contrary to initial assumptions, knowing everything isn’t necessary and may work against you. An endless number of frontend/backend/database solutions are available to developers, and all are context-specific. It may quite literally be impossible to know everything. Not to worry! This isn’t a bad thing.

The saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none,” is applicable here. It’s better to become intimately familiar with a select few frameworks than to know all of them. For starters, choosing even one framework will almost certainly require you to focus on one coding language. This will benefit to you once you are proficient, as the language will extend to other frameworks built around that base. This can also work against you if you choose to study multiple languages simultaneously.

A good example of this would be Node.Js and DotNet. Two completely different frameworks that use two completely different languages — Javascript and C#. Between the two, there are many differences in the syntax that would break your code entirely. Trying to learn both simultaneously can result in mixups that could hinder your progress.

This would be a nice challenge to take on, but in the context of mastery may not be the ideal path. You don’t need to know everything right away! Specialize in one, and you can go just as far.

You will be working with others.

I mentioned in a conversation I recently had with a coworker that some curriculums at the college level don’t adequately prepare developers for teamwork. This has led to multiple peers — and at one point myself — to prepare, mentally, to crush work solo. This is the antithesis of reality, as teamwork is critical to a successful project. Also, this works wonders in quelling the negative thoughts of, “Am I able to actually work on this?”

My earlier post was entirely based on this idea. With multiple eyes on a story, some errors that would have otherwise been glossed over can be caught and immediately rectified. Alternatively, it can lead to some out-of-the-box thinking that may change a multi-day effort into a 20-minute fix. It’s a few of many reasons why teamwork makes the dream work.

Another reason this can help with imposter syndrome is that it’s an immediate jump into learning.

Learn from those around you.

Taking the time to work with others on a project will introduce you to new ideas and concepts that you were never aware of. With these introductions and the subsequent implementation, it will expand your knowledge and increase your confidence. How often have you sat down in front of a project and thought, “Man I wish I had my friend’s know-how”?

What if your friend was your teammate? They are available and willing to guide you to a better way to solve your problem. It starts with a simple question: “Would you do it this way?” And next, you are having a full-blown conversation about potentially better ways to move forward.

You’ll come out of that conversation better than you entered it. The knowledge you’ll have gained will not only revolutionize your thinking process but also improve your code quality. This leads to you being a more well-rounded developer and invalidates the thought of “I’m not good enough.”

Reflect on your past experiences.

How many times have you looked back at something you did and thought, “I was doing a lot better than I gave myself credit for”? And how many times have you, in that same line of thinking, surmised that you wanted to go back to those circumstances?

How often do you suppose you’ll do it again?

Always push to improve yourself — that’s a given. But at the same time, always remember that you are doing your best. There will eventually come a time when you look back at yourself now and think, “I don’t know why I thought I wasn’t doing great.” It could be a long way down the road, or it could be now. The idea is not to let your limitations be permanent — push those boundaries. They’re not permanent, even if they feel like they are. On the other hand, remember that those limits won’t stop you from being a competent developer. You are completely capable of producing quality at any stage in your career.

Remember: You are good enough. Otherwise, how would you have made it this far?


Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *