Jason Charnes

Imposter Syndrome

Hi, my name is Jason, and I have imposter syndrome.

What is imposter syndrome?

In its simplest form, imposter syndrome is the feeling that you’re a fraud.

According to Wikipedia, the term came into existence in 1978 by clinical psychologists Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes.

Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.

Becoming a “Web Developer”

I can’t speak to other people’s experience, but I can share my own. I became a full-time web developer in after testing other career choices. There are few things in life I’ve been as passionate about, as web development. I was still in college when I realized that I wanted to be a developer. I had some front-end experience under my belt already. This realization allowed me to shift my focus in college to Computer Science.

Unfortunately, I struggle with math. I did well in my Computer Science classes, but College Algebra will only take you so far in a CS program. At this point, I decided to cut my losses and drop out in an attempt to not take on any more student loans.

A long, long story short- I put my focus into Ruby. As a college drop out who taught himself Ruby on Rails, I’ve done pretty well. I found my place in a local company that built their business on top of Rails.

Developer Fraud

So, I’ve made a career out of web development. I’m not a fraud, right?

Okay, I’m about to open up in a way I’m almost uncomfortable sharing. It’s important that you don’t read this as an attempt for sympathy, but rather an honest look at how I struggle and hopefully an effort to help others.

Imposter Syndrome

Web Developers Aren’t “Real Developers”

I’m building CRUD apps, not making cars drive themselves or saving lives with software. Should I even be considered a developer? Did I fake my way into this industry? Was I Just lucky?

I’ll Never Be as Smart as Other Developers

I work with really, really, really smart developers. I’ve learned a ton from them, but I don’t feel I’ll ever be as smart as them. If I can never be as smart as them, am I in the wrong industry? Have I hit the ceiling of my career? DO I BELONG HERE?

Nobody Cares About What I Have to Say

So, if I’m not a real developer and I’m not as smart as everyone else, do I have a voice in this industry?

Results of Imposter Syndrome

Because I feel like a fraud and suffer from an anxiety disorder, my go to is to shut down.

  • I’m scared to make code public (why I don’t contribute to open-source often)
  • There is a fear of sounding “dumb” (why I don’t speak up much or take much of a stand on technical decisions)
  • I’m worried about not fitting in with other developers (if I don’t fit it, I must clearly be a fraud)

Combating Developer Fraud

The good news, though, is that I’m not a fraud. (/me attempts to believe it)

If you feel like a fraud in this industry, it’s likely safe to say you’re not either.

Web Developers Are Real Developers

I’m building CRUD apps, not making cars drive themselves.

Great!I’m happy doing the work I’m doing. I like to think the work I’m doing is making a difference. Sure, I’m not “disrupting” anything. I am, however, trying to make our customers and co-workers’ lives a little better. Better yet, I’m doing it by writing software. Even if I did “fake” my way into this industry, or it was “just luck,” I belong. I’m passionate, and I’m not going to stop learning how to be a better developer.

I’ll Be I Am as Smart as Other Developers

I work with a talented, smart team of developers. Lucky for us, everyone is different. We’re each smart in our unique ways. We all have something to learn from each other. Just because I’m not as smart in a particular technology or area doesn’t discount the existing knowledge I have.

It definitely doesn’t mean that I’m incapable of learning more.

Nobody Cares About What I Have to Say

They may not, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a voice. As I mentioned before, each person has different life experiences. I’m trying to find my voice through this blog and by taking up public speaking. Even if what I have to say only resonates with one person, someone cares about what I have to say.

Are We Frauds?

Even after writing all this out and spending the last three years of my life trying to believe it, I still struggle to believe. One thing I can tell you though, if you’re struggling with imposter syndrome, you’re not alone.

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