How to Beat Imposter Syndrome

Juan Carlos Pleitez
4 min readDec 6, 2020
Photo by Shahadat Rahman on Unsplash

As a software engineer you often get this seemingly uncontrollable sense that you have no idea what you’re doing. You start to wonder if the decision to pursue this career was worth it and if you should continue in it. That my dear reader is called Imposter Syndrome! Now while you’re reading this you might wonder why in the world anyone would want to live a life with this cloud over their head, and I’m here to tell you….I’m just as stumped as you are!

All jokes aside, there is something so captivating and fulfilling about being a software engineer. And while living with the occasional imposter syndrome comes with the territory, the passion of creating new and amazing things carries you to the finish line every time. However, I think it’s super important to find healthy ways of coping with imposter syndrome so that you remain motivated and optimistic about your career path. Here’s how I do it:

You can never truly be an “expert” software engineer!

I would categorize myself as a perfectionist and I have never been humbled like I was when I started coding (and I was in a master’s program for mental health counseling!). I hated the idea that I couldn’t grasp concepts and vocabulary in the snap of a finger. Also, the looming thought in the back of my head telling me that the tech world is forever-changing had my head spinning. Imposter syndrome immediately set in! However, an instructor at Flatiron School told us that the reality of software engineering is that it is impossible to know everything in the field. That’s why things like Stack Overflow and other forums exist and thrive! *Mind Blown* The best analogy I can think of is how we look at the field of medicine. We don’t expect an Oncologist to be able to do the work of a Psychiatrist. Likewise, if you’re used to coding in Ruby for backend work, of course it will be difficult to code in frontend JavaScript.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

I make a conscious effort to remind myself of this anytime I’m feeling overwhelmed. It’s important to realize that you can only control the things that you know and allow yourself the opportunity to gain more knowledge on the things that you don’t. Also, while the tech world is indeed forever-changing, you have entered a community of devs that will support the growth and assist each other when needed. In my opinion, learning is one of the essential pillars of software engineering. Embrace the learning process and strive to reach the unknowns. That’s how we push the growth of our field!

See how far you’ve come!

I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to be in a community like Flatiron School that allows me to help newer devs. I’ve spent many days helping a friend understand concepts that seemed like an unfamiliar language to me weeks before. Thats when the idea for this blog hit me! The ultimate key to beating imposter syndrome is remembering how far you’ve come! Remember how hard it was to puts “Hello World!” or what is meant to define an instance method vs. class method! Remember every bug fix. Every “impossible” task that ultimately was possible in the end. And how that entire process has led you to where you are now. Open up to the idea that the feelings of imposter syndrome will lead to more professional growth in the end.

There will be a time where your overwhelming feelings will subside and the sheer euphoria of completion takes its place. Take the time to look at your past projects. Use your newly acquired knowledge to improve them. Learn as much as you can, while also honing in on your passions. Imposter syndrome will never truly go away, but you can’t appreciate the sun without a little rain! You are capable. You are smart. You can do it!

The joy is in the journey.

Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash