We’re All Impostors

I love the title of this post so much. Its a quote from Avdi on the Ruby Rogues’ Impostor Syndrome episode from several months back. Its so powerful on multiple levels. For one its an acknowledgement from a prominent figure in our community (writer, podcaster, conference speaker and generally awesome guy) that he too suffers from impostor syndrome. Secondly it alludes the fact that we all suffer from it on some sort of level. The problem is that we just don’t talk about it.

Hello everyone, my name is Ryan and I’m an impostor.

I’ve been out of the game for a couple months. Nothing catastrophic, I just took some time to take care of my family. To help warm up to coding again I’ve been doing some open source contributions and working through exercism.io (its awesome, go sign up right now). Just today I was working through one of the exercises and it struck. The little voice in my head started to say things like “don’t submit this, people are going to think you’re an idiot”. I froze, I walked away from the computer, and immediately went to the living room and started watching television. My avoidance mechanism was kicking in and I felt like an impostor.

What is this all about? For me its this deep fear of not being accepted. I know for a lot of others its a deep fear of looking dumb. Maybe as developers part of the way we’re wired just makes us naturally susceptible to it. I mean we spend our days telling our computers how things should be done and maybe that just leaks out into our interpersonal relationships as well. Maybe this just makes us elitists on some level: “Hey my brain is bigger than yours”.

I’m not really sure what the solution is or even if there is one. What I use to cope with it will definitely not work for someone else. But I do know it made me feel a whole lot better when I heard other people I respected acknowledging it.

A wise man once told me that we are all on our own journeys. We’re all at different at stops on the journey but what connects us all is that we share similar experiences, passions, and even pains. Lets just try and be a little vulnerable and open up about our personal pains.