Imposter syndrome Explained with examples

Introduction to Imposter syndrome
Introduction to Imposter syndrome

In this article, we will be looking at what imposter syndrome is, what it looks like, the impact it can have on your progress, and how to deal with it.

Imposter syndrome can really affect your progress, reduce your confidence and turn you away from your dream goal when it is not dealt with properly. This is why it is important to address this topic.

What is imposter syndrome: definition and examples

What is imposter syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is one or many negative thoughts we experience when we are struggling to attain a goal or have attained a goal. If you see imposter syndrome as a tree, the roots of this syndrome grow from the belief that “I am not good enough.” As this belief grows, it creates a series of negative thoughts that you play over and over in your mind. If the syndrome is not dealt with, it can deeply harm your progress, decrease your confidence, and even turn you away from your dreams.

What does imposter syndrome look like?

Since imposter syndrome is a series of negative thoughts that go through our minds and there are over 7.8 billion humans on earth, this means that Imposter syndrome can take over 7.8 billion forms! You will experience imposter syndrome differently from your peer, your mentor, your employer, your friends, and more. Let’s explore a few examples of what this syndrome can look like so you have a better idea of when it starts happening to you.

Example of imposter syndrome with failure

  • I should know how to write this code by now, but I don’t! I’ve failed again! Despite all my efforts, I keep forgetting how to write this code and what to do first…What is wrong with me? I’m punishing myself trying and trying to code…Maybe I should just go back to what I was doing before, I had a simple life and never failed then. This coding is too much work and too much failure!

Example of imposter syndrome in job searching

  • Wow, I’ve just seen a job I like in the company I’ve always wanted to work with, but they are asking for 5 years of experience…Should I even apply? I don’t have 5 years so it would be a waste of time to apply…I better not apply…it would save me the embarrassment of a rejection…yes you’re right, I won’t apply, it’s better that way…

Example of imposter syndrome in interviewing

  • I have a call with the recruiter in a few hours…she’s going to find out that I don’t know anything about Ruby and that all I’ve done is a small calculator app! She’s going to find out I’m a fraud! What should I do?? This is going to be a horrible experience…maybe I should just cancel the meeting now…

Example of imposter syndrome when you finally get the job

  • Oh no, I can see on the zoom call that my manager doesn’t look happy today…I think it’s because I didn’t finish my last task on time…I’m sure that’s why…He hates me now…I wish I had finished it on time…Now I’m going to lose my job because I am not good enough…

Example of imposter syndrome with success

  • Oh wow, I just got the prize for employee of the month! I know I should be happy but…did I really deserve this prize?? I’m sure they just gave it to me because they wanted to be kind and nice…I didn’t actually do anything great…Maybe it’s a way of them giving me a prize before they throw me out of the company? Maybe there’s a plan to get rid of me nicely and gently??

Example of imposter syndrome with ageism

  • I’m X years old and I’m still studying to be a junior developer! This is for young people…they must be laughing at me being here…And let’s think about it: “Which employer is going to hire a junior developer as old as me??” No one, I’m sure of it! I better stop now…It’s not worth it!

Example of imposter syndrome with racism

  • Black people have fewer chances of getting jobs…look at my white friends who have all gotten jobs…I’m sure I will never get one because of my skin color. Why am I wasting my time trying to learn to code when I know that I have no chance of getting a job?? Why am I doing this??

Example of imposter syndrome with sexism

  • I’m just a woman…all my peers are men and they are doing better than me. Maybe women are just slower? Maybe we don’t belong in tech? But I still have a dream to be in tech though…could this just be a dream…yes maybe it’s just a dream and I should stop wasting my time….yes women are just not as good as men in tech…It’s better I go do something else…

As you saw above, imposter syndrome can take many forms. This syndrome can also be intensified when you are working alone. In the next paragraph, we will explore this syndrome in a remote working environment.

Remote working and imposter syndrome

If you have ever worked in an office environment before, you will notice that it is much easier to communicate with your colleagues face-to-face, to talk about issues you have with your manager, and to discuss freely with your collaborators. This is because of the physical and human connection you feel when you are in-person. In a remote-environment however, this connection is reduced because you are mainly working on your own, without anyone to share your feelings with or talk to. Remote environments increase the possibility of imposter syndrome which is why it is really important to identify it as soon as possible and deal with it. We will discuss later on in this lesson how to deal with your imposter syndrome.

Now that you understand what imposter syndrome is and have seen some examples, let’s return to the main page and look at the impacts of this syndrome and how to deal with it.

How to deal with imposter syndrome

Now that you understand what imposter syndrome is and have seen some examples, let’s look at the impacts of this syndrome and how to deal with it.

Avoid Imposter syndrome
Avoid Imposter syndrome

It closes the door to opportunities for you

This is the biggest impact of imposter syndrome. Once you start believing these negative emotions that come from imposter syndrome, they influence your behavior and you start to behave negatively with your peers, interviewers, and employers. This becomes a vicious cycle as people will start to sense your negativity and try to avoid you as much as possible.

It creates demotivation which leads to lack of progress

You don’t feel like doing anything! You don’t feel like pursuing your goal anymore and you feel stuck and lost. This, in turn, will reduce your progress and draw you farther away from achieving your goal.

It stops you from asking for help

The belief that you should already know something by now stops you from asking for help and this, in turn, stops you from learning from others and growing. The only way to grow in life is to be a life-long student who learns constantly from others and imposter syndrome can stop you from achieving this growth when you don’t ask for help.

Will I ever stop imposter syndrome?

No, imposter syndrome happens to many of us and recurs frequently as we face challenges and grow. The good news is that we can control it and make sure it doesn’t stop us from making progress. Below, we will show you some tips on how to tackle imposter syndrome so that it is beneficial to you rather than detrimental.

How to tackle imposter syndrome

Accept the current situation

Realize that it is normal for you to experience ups and downs when you are learning something new. Learning to code takes time and a lot of practice so it is impossible to know everything at the first try. Even senior developers struggle with basic concepts despite the number of years of experience they have. Learning to code requires time, practice, and patience so remember to be kind to yourself along the way in your coding journey.

Also, remember that your peer who understands the code quicker than you might already have previous experience or some other differences you may not know, which are helping them move faster. Even though it is human to want to compare yourself to your peers, accept that you have different backgrounds, different experiences, and accept that you do not know everything right now and this is OK. Accept that you are still learning and that learning is a life-long process, no matter how fast or slow the process is taking.

Adopt a growth mindset

A growth mindset is a way of thinking that believes success is obtained by developing your abilities through dedication and hard work, learning from your mistakes, and reiterating over and over again till you get the result you want. A fixed mindset believes that since I don’t know it now, I am not good enough and I will never know it. Having a growth mindset means thinking that intelligence is something you can grow, not something you’re born with.

Adopt a growth mindset over a fixed one. Life is continuous growth and so a growth mindset is the best way to adapt to life. The challenges you face today will help shape your victories of tomorrow. This is why whenever you face a challenge, you need to use it as a push to grow and continue striving towards your goal.

You will continue to learn more about growth mindset as you go through the Microverse curriculum as this is a very important tool for your mental and professional growth.

Ask for help

Asking for help is not a weakness. Asking for help is a sign that you are willing to grow and take care of your future. It means that you are willing to invest in your own development and do whatever it takes to reach your goal and this requires energy and dedication. Asking for help is a strength and an important professional skill to develop.

Get inspiration from others

Have you seen someone you admire achieve the goal you want? Use their stories as an inspiration to keep you going through those challenging, doubtful moments.

  • Did you know that Steve Jobs felt like an imposter when he was removed from his own company Apple and still he went on to create Pixar?
  • Did you know that Arnold Schwarzenegger was told that he would never be an actor because of his German accent and his strange name?
  • Did you know that Maya Angelou said “They will find out I am a fraud” after writing 7 books and winning several awards?
  • Did you know that J.K Rowling almost gave up when she was sitting alone in a bar writing Harry Potter on paper napkins?

All these people and more struggled with imposter syndrome and still persisted in following their goals and dreams. Take inspiration from them and from others you admire.

Talk to your mentor

Once you’ve identified that you are experiencing imposter syndrome, talk to your mentor about it. Your mentor will point out that those feelings and fears are irrational, and they will remind you of your strengths. Your mentor has most likely felt the same way, either with coding or with interviewing, or with job searching so it’s a great option to use when you start feeling the syndrome. If you do not have any mentor you can choose one from here.

Take a risk

What would you do differently to reach your goal of getting your next development job if you weren’t afraid? Write it down, tell your standup team, and your mentor, and do it. The worst that could happen is that it wouldn’t work. Keep the work going and hold your chin up. Don’t let imposter syndrome keep you from getting what’s yours.

Write down your accomplishments

The brain has a naughty tendency to focus only on what is not going well. Make a habit of writing down your accomplishments which can help you internalize confidence. It also serves as a good reminder of what the facts are for when you start feeling less confident about yourself.

Thanks for reading this article, if you still face any issues you can contact us or watch this video for more