My Personal Experience with Impostor Syndrome and How I Overcame It
Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, impostorism, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which one doubts one's accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a "fraud".
I recently joined the Microverse
community to learn and become a software developer. Before this recent journey, I had dabbled in other online learning platforms for a while. During my first week of coding, I came across the term "Impostor Syndrome", didn't know what it meant so I looked it up, turns out I have been suffering from this all through my coding journey and had no clue as to what it was till now.
Working on projects is a great way to build your knowledge on programming and other vital skills you need in a work setting and Microverse does a great job of implementing this. Before each project, when I see the requirements and project specifications, I get the overwhelming feeling like I am in way over my head here (that feeling sucks), it's like I have no clue what to do, where to begin or worse if I can even do it. I start feeling like I don't belong here, this is for people with a higher IQ than me and all the things fear will make you tell yourself.
My very first project, I looked at it for about 3 hours and had no clue where to start (maybe I was just dumb, is what I thought), it felt like all my past coding challenges and tutorials I had done to get to this point were a waste of time.
So while researching for the project I came across this article "Developers: How to overcome Imposter Syndrome"
and this changed my perception and view of things in a big way. I realized I wasn't the only one, developers who have been programming way ahead of me do suffer from this, so it's not me, it's a normal feeling that comes with the job (Oh the relief I felt!
My main takeaways from the article and the countless others I read was, there was no shame in the way I felt. It meant I was more invested in my craft and making myself better.
So how did I overcome it? you may ask, well, I didn't actually, I just embraced it and use it as motivation to get better. One thing you as an individual needs to realize is there are many ways to do something, you may not use the most effective way at the beginning but if your result is the same it's okay, someday you will get better at it, the most important thing is you learn from what you do and how to make it better.
So now when I get a project, I don't think of what the original developers did that resulted in this design/product, I think of what I can do to accomplish something similar and I go on from there.
To do this I have some basic steps I follow:
- I break down the project into smaller sections.
- Break down those smaller sections into even smaller units if possible.
- Use a pen and paper to sketch how I think those sections will be laid out on the page.
- Write down a minimum of 2 different ways I can implement the same layout.
- Then I design and code each section as planned until I get to the final product.
A small example of how I follow the steps.
In one of my projects I was asked to clone the Newsweek
landing page, to accomplish this I followed my steps above and did this (I will show just the code snippet of the navbar to minimize my content
This is the actual Newsweek navigation bar
This is my version (close right?)
To achieve the top section of the navbar I asked myself, how will I implement this layout, I could use Flexbox
or CSS Grid
and no matter which one I chose I will arrive at the same output. So, I chose CSS Grid because I hadn't used it in the past and wanted to try it out. Just for the first navbar section, this is what I did.
HTML for first navbar container
CSS for navbar container
CSS for weather section
CSS for logo section
CSS for subscribe section
So using the steps above, I split the navbar section into 2 parts, further spilt the first navbar into 3 sections and decide I was going to use CSS Grid to implement the layout and I applied this steps throughout the rest of the page and came out with this design.
This has now been my routine for every project I do and has helped me a lot with managing the impostor syndrome effects which can make you doubt yourself a lot to the point you may end up quitting.
Also, another technique I use is the "Rubber Duck"
technique where I explain my code to myself and most times to my Dad who has to go through the agony of me explaining my code to him after each project and this makes you confident and secure in your abilities.
I hope this helps someone else as it did for me and also surround yourself with people willing to help you at all times (programmers are willing helpers). Do not be afraid to seek help, knowledge is power and if you seek you will find, just be patient and enjoy problem-solving as much as you love coding.
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