Archive for the 'Life’s Lessons' Category

Impostor Syndrome and the Trap We Set for Ourselves

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”- Eleanor Roosevelt

“Evaluate yourself by your own standards, not someone else’s” – Life’s Little Instruction Book (but just a paraphrase of Galatians 6:4)

“Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses” – Everyone

Something was going on in the Tech World last week, in an industry that is perpetually ignoring the past (and even the present) and is continually looking for the next best thing; I seemed to notice an unprecedented level of self-reflection(or perhaps I was just tuned to that frequency myself).  Jeff Atwood published the thoughtful “Beware the trap we set for ourselves” in which he ponders “the opinions of other people matter, but they are the traps we set for ourselves” and Julie Bort published a very good piece on Impostor’s Syndrome – which also had a link to a very good blog post with a female developer’s point of view (excellent illustration from this post reused below). These were all great posts – they are things for which I never had a name for or identified the root cause of, but boy did I notice the symptoms everywhere.

Insecurity can be a good thing – it can inspire you to work and try harder, to question and improve things that truly need questioning and improving.  And the advice is everywhere, even if we exclude the voices in our own heads: “Work Harder” “Don’t let your team/company down” “Only the paranoid survive” “Anyone can do it” But like any good trait, it can be pushed too far until it gets twisted into a bad one. Being hard working is a good trait, being a workaholic is not.  Being thrifty is a good trait, being cheap is not. And so on – and so it goes with insecurity.

Much like there is a special-purpose part of the brain that allows you to remember, in explicit detail, every embarrassing moment experienced in your life, there is also a special part of the brain that seems to encourage and reinforce feelings of insecurity. Most people who care about improving themselves seem to also be pre-programmed to think that they are never good enough.  This is just human nature, you need to acknowledge that these feelings exists, plan for them, know when they are helpful and more importantly know when to ignore them, and move on.

Technology changes, jobs change, but the lessons we’ve already learned don’t. Work hard and honestly 8-5, do the best job you are able, be able to handle constructive criticism, but in the end don’t worry excessively what you or others think, and don’t allow self-doubt to cloud your opinion of yourself. You need to be a person that you respect and admire. Don’t get trapped into judging yourself by unrealistic or someone else’s standards.

 

What I Think I Know - What I Actually Know

Overcoming Impostor Syndrome – https://medium.com/tech-talk/bdae04e46ec5