There is a malady that often afflicts creative types. It is called Impostor Syndrome. It is the feeling that one gets when they find themselves being recognized for skills that they are not sure they have. For example, artists early in their career often doubt their bona fides as artists. They have spent their youth in awe of the masters that actually make a living doing the things that they love. When they start to have some success they feel like someone is going to knock on the door and tell them, “Okay. You’ve had your fun. Now it’s time to get a real job.”
Artists aren’t the only ones that are afflicted with Impostor Syndrome though. The software developer works in a field that is constantly changing. New languages and tools are developed so fast that there are few, if any experts in any of them. You see ads on job forums looking for candidates with five years experience in a technology that has only existed for two years at most. Often the only way to get these jobs is to step up and say you know something that you don’t. Then, if you get the job, you hustle like mad to learn the skills that you claim you already have.
Needless to say, this causes a good deal of anxiety among software developers working on the bleeding edge of technology. It is a strange feeling that is unlike most other types of anxiety. Most anxiety is abated when whatever fears that you are anxious about turn out to be unfounded. In the case of Impostor Syndrome, the fears are founded until such time as you demonstrate that they aren’t by actually learning the skills that you have claimed.
When you finally reach the point where you can contribute to a project that you are working on under the shadow of Impostor Syndrome, the relief is palpable. It is an emotional roller coaster ride that takes a kind of adrenalin junkie personality type to enjoy it. The best advice if you find yourself in this position is to take a deep breath and dive in. After all, you were looking for a job when you found this one.
Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the people you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.