So I recently announced that I started as a front end developer with Crowd Favorite, a super awesome WordPress agency. I’m just starting week three of my journey at Crowd Favorite and it has been an awesome journey thus far. But I had several realizations last week as I was jumping into my first client project with Crowd Favorite.
I was afraid.
Now, I’m scared of a few things. Not being known, my family being hurt, and a few other things. But this fear was performance based. I felt like I didn’t belong. The people I was working with were too smart. They would figure out that I wasn’t on their level with my first pull request.
I’d be outcast. Fired. Rejected. Ridiculed. Scorned.
Guess how many of those things happened? None.
This isn’t because I’m a great developer or because the other devs were being nice. Although I consider myself a fairly good developer and want to become better every day. I also consider my colleagues at Crowd Favorite to be exceptionally kind and inclusive. But the reason that I didn’t fall on my face in this instance is because none of those things I was telling myself were true. It was my old “friend” Imposter Syndrome.
A New Face of Imposter Syndrome
I have experienced imposter syndrome many days since I became a professional web developer. Working in the enterprise segment of web development, I’ve met a lot of very smart people and been able to work on some of the top brands in advertising. This led to some incredible projects that were huge highs in my career. However, it also led to me doubting both my ability and my experience.
But what I experienced the past week or so has been new for me. I’ve never experienced such a sharp rise in the feelings of not being good enough so close to a new hire. It scared me. It caused me to second guess things. I even got a bit irritable because I didn’t feel at peace.
But late last week I had the realization that my work isn’t perfect, no one’s is. But I’m doing good work. I’m working hard. I have smart people around me. But that doesn’t mean I don’t belong. It means I have a great team to learn from and contribute to.
If you’ve never interviewed with Chris Lema, it can be intense. 🙂 But he’s a great guy who asks hard questions in order to make hard decisions. While I might be tempted to say that passing the interview process should give me validation, that’s not really my style. My work, here and now, validates me as part of the team. But it doesn’t validate me as a person. As a Christian, I believe that God himself does that. But no matter what you believe, don’t let your work or other’s approval validate you.
I know a lot of developers out there are just starting new positions and that many struggle with imposter syndrome. Keep your head up. Know that you took your new job to learn, grown and stretch. But that you also have a great skill and knowledge. Be willing to admit when you don’t know something. But be willing to humbly contribute and mentor when you do. Slowly, we’ll fight back against the monster of imposter syndrome and eventually, we’ll slay him.