Fake It Till You Make It!
It’s feelings time! Recently there has been a lot on my plate. I have worked very hard, dealing with immigration applications, working on keeping up my skills, applying to jobs, and networking, all during a pandemic, and the rest that 2020 has thrown at us. It can’t always be roses and sunshine and all this has started to affect how I see myself as a software developer.
Sometimes, I find myself thinking I’m pretending. It’s as though I have put on a software developer costume and I am sitting in front of my laptop and acting. Am I truly a software developer? Or am I simply playing grown-up?
I know I can't be the only one battling these thoughts. I’d like to take the time to acknowledge these feelings for what they really are: impostor syndrome.
Imposter syndrome is the feeling that you are not qualified for your position. It is feeling as though you have made it to where you are through luck and not skill and that people will soon find out you are a fraud. Usually, it leads to thoughts such as:
“I’m not qualified to have this position”
“My question is so dumb”
“I’m not the right person for this”
“I just know I’m going to get called out.”
This is very stressful to constantly be feeling undeserving while you are in fact qualified and many others will probably agree!
My Personal Experience
When experiencing these feelings its important to not only acknowledge them but also dig a little further and find the roots. Personally, I believe there are two main driving factors in my case. The first being a woman in tech and the second being that I undertook a career change.
As progressive as the tech field is, being a woman in tech still comes with many challenges. Research has shown women only make up 20% of tech jobs at Microsoft, 29% at Apple, and 21% at Google. And while imposter syndrome is not exclusive to women, it may be more prevalent. This can be especially amplified in women of color.
Secondly, undertaking a career switch is a challenging endeavor. It takes a lot of courage to start new, especially with having to leave behind your achievements in your prior field. During the process of rebranding, it can be harder to acknowledge one's strengths and it is normal to have feelings of being an “imposter”.
Steps to Take to Tackle Imposter Syndrome
There are ways to keep from feeling the imposter syndrome and the following have helped me get back to my confident self:
- Surround Yourself with Supportive People
While combatting imposter syndrome, firstly, acknowledge the feeling. It's better to admit your insecurities and work towards overcoming them. Make sure you have a stellar support crew that listens and offers their guidance.
You must have a safe space to ask questions and ask for help. This could be through a mentorship program or events with like-minded people in your field or simply a coworker.
Something that has helped me immensely is talking to my Bootcamp cohort. When discussing my feelings of feeling inadequate I found out I was not alone. Many of them were in the same boat!
- Work Hard- Keep Learning!
Here is some bad news: you aren't the best in your field and you definitely aren't perfect. Here's the good news: you have everything it takes to get better. Go out there and learn! Gain new skills and improve the ones you have, create goals, and achieve them through hard work. Work on your weaknesses!
No one appreciates a know-it-all with a large ego. It is much better to acknowledge that you have room to grow and are willing to learn. See yourself as a student.
I have been regularly attending events by “Shes Coding” which is an organization that supports women and non-binary persons in tech. I really enjoy attending their events as it allows me to learn from other women in tech.
- Keep Track of Your Accomplishments
Sometimes we forget how far we’ve come and how great we really are. It is very important to remind yourself of your accomplishments and strengths regularly. Make a list! What have you achieved so far? What characteristics of yourself are you the proudest of?
Additionally, focus on how your differences can be viewed as strengths. Sometimes the things making you feel like an outsider can be your biggest assets. For example, though I've made a career switch I have gained very valuable experiences in my previous career as a civil engineer. My unique background will benefit me as a software developer!
I’d like to think imposter syndrome means you care. You care enough to want to be better, and you are aware that you can achieve more and work harder. To me, it means you are doing something worth doing.
Perfection in any field is unattainable, however, that is no excuse for avoidance. Acceptance in your limitations while acknowledging your strengths is the best option. In the end, everyone has insecurities and they do not simply go away. The goal is to trust yourself and project confidence in your abilities.
And if all else fails: fake it till you make it