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Impostor Syndrome

Have you ever been scared to contribute to a conversation or publish a blog post because you were worried you weren’t qualified enough? Wondered how you got to the point you’re at in your career because you feel you don’t belong? Or that you’re a fraud? You’re not alone! In this episode, we discuss how we have experienced impostor syndrome and our personal strategies for combatting it.


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Impostor Syndrome

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Show notes

0:36 How have we experienced Impostor Syndrome

  • Job Interviews (0:48)
  • Quitting Computer Science & feeling like you stick out (2:04)
  • Speaking for the first time at a conference (7:19)
  • Feeling like you’re not qualified to teach something (11:46)
  • When people say mean things about you (13:11)
  • Running a company as someone young (16:32)
  • Getting criticism (17:56)

21:21 Impostor Syndrome as a Business Owner

21:55 Impostor Syndrome pushing us to be better

24:40 Combatting Impostor Syndrome

  • Tracking your wins
  • Focusing on your personal journey instead of others’
  • Being open about it and community w/ others

37:24 Wins

Additional Links:

Wins!

  • Cecilia graduated from the full-stack software engineering boot camp at Georgia Tech and landed her first job as a junior software developer.
  • Emma - Coding Coach Team is doing incredible things
  • Lindsey - Survived 106 heat index for her engagement pics!
  • Kelly - Started her own online store!
  • Ali - Spoke at CodeLand which was her most difficult talk to date because of how personal it was

Help us out

Transcript

Lindsey [0:00] Have you ever been scared to contribute to a conversation or publish a blog post because you were worried you weren’t qualified enough?

Emma [0:06] How did I get to this point in my career? I don’t belong here.

Ali [0:10] Oh, getting to this place in my career has been just pure luck.

Kelly [0:13] Eventually, someone is going to call me out for the fraud that I am.

Lindsey [0:17] When is the last time a similar thought crossed your mind? Probably pretty recently. And we’re no exception. All four of us have experienced imposter syndrome. But we’ve all developed our own personal ways to combat it. Let’s get started.

Kelly [0:32] Welcome to the Ladybug podcast. I’m Kelly.

Ali [0:35] I’m Ali.

Emma [0:36] I’m Emma.

Lindsey [0:36] And I’m Lindsey, and we’re debugging the tech industry. So there’s a lot of talk in the developer community about how imposter syndrome impacts us. So how have we felt it? Emma, you can go first.

Emma [0:48] So I feel imposter syndrome a lot. I think as you grow in your career, and as you grow on social media, and your follower count increases, it’s just exemplified through these things. I’m not sure what the right word is… But it’s a lot more prevalent, right? Because now there are so many more thousands of eyes watching everything that you do. One situation in particular, [where] I remember imposter syndrome being really bad was at a Google job interview actually. I think job interviews, in general, are a place where we all struggle to feel like we know what we’re doing and what we’re talking about. And that is going to be a whole other episode, right, the front end interview process, but going to a company like Google, where everyone is an elite engineer in their field, and having to whiteboard coding solutions for data structures and algorithms and know the ins and outs of JavaScript had really gotten into my head and I got kind of tripped up about my skills like, Am I good enough? I even thought about kind of canceling the interview, which was ridiculous, because you’ve got to push yourself through these things. But yeah, I seriously debated but just pulling out of the whole interview because I had this imposter syndrome. And I didn’t want to put myself out there. So yeah, job interviews. Ali, what about you?

Ali [2:04] So for me, I quit computer science, my sophomore year of college. So I started off that same year trying to… I was just totally new to learning how to code that same year. I had just learned Python, and I thought it was magical, that you could type stuff into a computer and something else would come out. And you could build all these games and all these super fun things. Then I took my second class, which was in C++, and I didn’t really understand it. Python has all these things like lists built into them. Why would you ever use C++ because there’s less built into it? And you have to write more code to do the same thing. You have to deal with pointers and all that. And so I totally thought that I wasn’t good at it. I was pulling all-nighters. There’s this Sudoku solving algorithm that we had to implement in one of our first weeks using backtracking. And I had no idea what I was doing; it was so hard. I spent so much time on it. On top of that, I felt like a lot of people in the computer science department didn’t look like me. They didn’t have the same interests to me, none of that. And so I felt like I really didn’t fit in. And so after that semester, I ended up quitting computer science and just thought that it wasn’t for me, and I look back on it. And I feel so silly about that because I thought that I wasn’t good at all. But I got a B in the class, I wasn’t that bad at it. And just for me, that was not good at that time. And especially working so hard in it to get a B was like really, really tough for me. So that was definitely a huge moment of imposter syndrome. And I guess at that point, I kind of was an imposter. Oh, it was just learning how to code. But I do wish that I had stuck with it, even though it was challenging. And I felt like it didn’t belong.

Emma [3:56] It’s really interesting that you say that there weren’t people that looked like you or have the same interest. Because I think we take this for granted, right? Subconsciously, our minds are kind of taking in all of our surroundings. And subconsciously, we get a pretty good feel on whether or not we feel like we fit in by nature. I’m not a psychology expert, and Kelly can probably talk a little bit more to this. But subconsciously, we have these thoughts. And it’s like that sets the groundwork for our imposter syndrome level. Like if you’re not surrounded by people that that look like you, or not just look like you but have the same interests and whatnot like it’s going to set the bar a little bit higher to reaching this level of imposter syndrome. Because… I don’t know, Kelly, what are your thoughts on that?

Kelly [4:43] No, I completely agree with you there. And when you’re putting a situation [and], there’s nobody around you… like you cannot see another person who really looks like you. And in a way, you can almost feel like it’s an attack on your comfort zone. Like just that in its own is going to set you off balance a little bit. And then trying to combat that on top of doing well in the class as well. It’s all compiling, and it becomes too much.

Emma [5:11] I also think it’s funny, you mentioned too, Ali that like, you were an imposter at the time. Like Aren’t we all? As you begin this journey, I think we all are imposters to a certain degree. But I think in the beginning, you don’t realize this. And it’s only once you gain more experience that you recognize that oh my gosh, like do I know what I’m doing. And that’s kind of a kind of ironic,

Kelly [5:34] I think that there is a really big moment in your own personal growth. When you start to recognize [that], you don’t know everything. And accepting that is a big step in moving forward in moving past the imposter syndrome.

Ali [5:50] Yeah, one of my old mentors, my favorite thing that he ever said was that, at no point in this, you’re going to know everything. But the moment that I feel like you’ve made it is when you know you can look at any site or app and realize that with enough time and enough learning that you could eventually get to a point where you could build something like that. And I feel like more recently, I’ve kind of gotten to that point, especially with blogging and learning all these new things that given enough time, and enough learning opportunities, like I could that thing so totally agree with that. That’s tangential. But

Emma [6:27] One other point to that before we hear more from Lindsey on her side of things… We look at the work that someone has done that is exemplary in a field. And we assume that means that they are a genius in everything. And that’s just totally not true. Right? So let’s take someone very big in this industry, Dan Abramov is known as a React expert. But he did publish a blog talking about how maybe his CSS skills were not great. And he openly admitted this, but we look at someone like that in the industry. And we assume that because they’re good at one thing, they’re good at all things. It’s just not true. So we need to kind of recognize “hey, this person is really good at React. Maybe I’m not, but maybe I’m really good at laying things out in CSS, and that’s somewhere that they struggle.

Ali [7:12] Totally, totally. Okay. Now to get back off that tangent, Kelly, what’s your imposter syndrome story.

Kelly [7:19] So one of my biggest ones was when I was invited to speak at my first conference, and it was Shopify pursuit. And they asked me to talk about my experience from going from freelancing to starting an agency and the steps it took to get there and everything I learned along the way. And to be asked to speak in front of this crowd of people, specifically about my own growth is… I’m blanking on the word I’m looking for here.

Lindsey [7:49] It was intimidating?

Kelly [7:51] We’ll go with that. It was really intimidating. And this is an all-expenses-paid trip as well. So they’re literally paying me to do this, too. So it made me feel very vulnerable talking about my journey here. And obviously, once I got there, and after I actually started my talk, I got super into it, and everything was great. And I got a lot of really positive feedback afterward. And seeing the heads nodding, and people agreeing with me, and taking pictures of my slide deck and things like that I ended up feeling a lot better about it. But just going into it, even seeing that email, just asking me to speak at the conference was super overwhelming, like I did not actually belong there.

Emma [8:38] Well, I think once you have money on the line, that kind of changes things, right? I mean, it’s one thing to press “Publish” on a blog post, like that’s a free post, right. But when someone is giving them money and time to organize this, and you are the person that they’re hiring, it’s like, oh, crap, Now am I really good enough, like people are paying to see me that’s, you know, mind-blowing,

Ali [8:59] I think going back to our last conversation [when we were talking about] the feeling like you don’t belong or feel like you stick out like a sore thumb in an environment. Like a lot of these big conferences, when I’m at them. I feel like I totally stick out like a sore thumb being a lot younger than everybody and being one of the few women there. And so I think that that’s a huge place where I feel imposter syndrome, too. [I get] shepherded it over to the press area a lot or into the student section. And it’s like, no, like, I’m an actual software engineer. And I’ve been in this industry for actually quite a few years at this point. But anyways.

Lindsey [9:34] I think just really quickly when it comes to being paid to go someplace. I was freaking out before I spoke at not Shopify, but Spotify, I always get those two mixed up. And they flew me out to Stockholm. And it was definitely one of the highlights of my career. But I remember thinking in my head before, they paid money. What if it sucks? What if this talk sucks? And it was one of my favorite talks that have ever given, but I remember leading up to it being like, “Oh, my gosh, I cannot mess this up. I cannot mess this up.” [and] being super, super terrified. And thinking these react, engineers are going to think I’m silly. I don’t know what I’m doing with this. I can’t talk about JavaScript the same way. So yeah, definitely. Definitely, relate to that a lot. It was not my first conference, but definitely my first big, big conference. So

Kelly [10:29] Emma, you have experience as well with imposter syndrome at your first conference, too.

Emma [10:34] Yeah, mine was a kind of a weird situation. My first conference speaking engagement was with ReactJS Girls in London, and I was thrilled to go back to London, and it seemed like a really cool organization. And I’m the first talk, and so we open this conference with all of us dressing up. Eve Porcello had us all dress up like the apple guys. We wore skorts and glasses. So we did this really silly presentation, I had to run back and change, which helped my imposter syndrome a little bit. I go up to the stage to present. I’m the first one. And I look out, and the entire React and React Native core teams are sitting in the front row. And I’m sitting there thinking, well, crap because I’m at a React conference, [it’s] my first time presenting and the core teams are sitting in the front row. It was terrifying. But it was also reassuring to see them really engaged. They weren’t on their phones. They were taking photos of my slides. And that, to me, really helped reassure me that I have things that are valuable to say as well. But yeah, so Lindsey, you mentioned you know, your conference, but you also teach classes, don’t you? So what was your experience teaching class? Have you ever felt imposter syndrome there?

Lindsey [11:46] So I love teaching. Ali helped me get into teaching, as well. But I was recently teaching a class about programmer lingo and stuff like that. And I was looking over the slides, and actually talking to Ali being like, “Oh, my gosh, some of these terms I don’t even know!” How am I even qualified to teach this class?” [It was] a lot of low-level programming terminology that I had never come across in my life. And I was freaking out. But what I did is [told myself] “You know what, Lindsey, you’ve been doing this for five years. You know more than the people who are coming to this class, and you can do your best.” And it was definitely terrifying. I’ve taught intro to coding, which I always love doing. But this one, which was just talking like a programmer, it wasn’t even geared toward web developers or wannabe web developers. [It was geared for] more just people who want to talk and interact with their web developers more. And I felt like half the terminology was stuff I was so clueless about. I had to handle it in a way where I’m like, you know what? The worst-case scenario happens somebody asks me a question, and I say, “I don’t know.” And I think that was actually a very helpful realization is being like, if I don’t know it’s okay. So, Ali, what’s another time you felt imposter syndrome?

Ali [13:11] Yeah. So I think this whole year has been wild with my blog posts getting a lot more attention, and like Twitter and doing bigger conferences and all that. Why me? And why are people reading my stuff and what makes my stuff better? And it probably isn’t better. It’s just partially luck and timing and being okay at marketing stuff. And so, I think that that’s been a huge piece of imposter syndrome. Especially with people saying stuff on the internet and all that. I think it totally brings up different insecurities and something new everyday, seemingly, but I think that that’s brought about a lot of imposter syndrome too. I’m not necessarily some 10x developer, just because people read my blog post. And I think that people sometimes think that that’s the way that it is. Especially on Twitter. It’s like, I’m not I just can talk about stuff and also write code. And that’s why it happens not because I’m some Rockstar developer.

Emma [14:19] Yeah, people see, like the amount of followers you have, and they just automatically make this assumption that you’re totally an expert in something. It’s like, no, I tweet pictures of possums and talk about food. So I’m definitely not an expert in technology. But I think to go to this blogging thing, you know, one of the reassurances that we have is seeing all the positive feedback, right, that helps kind of combat imposter syndrome. And then you get one comment on your blog. That’s like, “you don’t know what you’re talking about. This is terrible. You should never write again!” And it totally demoralizes you, and it negates all of the positive. Even if the ratio of positive to negative is like one to 200, it doesn’t make a difference that one negative comment like totally destroys morale.

Ali [15:02] Yeah, hundred percent, especially when it comes at a different angle from other negative stuff that you’ve gotten in the past. I feel like I get numb to the stuff that I get a lot. Like I’m numb to the people asking me out at this point or calling me pretty like whatever, that sucks. But it happens so often that I’m so used to it. But then somebody comes at you from a new angle, and it just knocks you on your feet again, and you’re like, “Oh, this is probably true. This person’s right about me. They’ve exposed me.” It’s awful.

Kelly [15:32] Absolutely. And there’s a lot that goes into this on the psychology side as well. When we get a positive compliment from somebody, we’re very good at associating it as something external to ourselves. Like, “Oh, there was just a lot of research that went into this,” or “I didn’t invent the way this code works; it’s just easy to read.” But when we get some kind of negative comment coming in, we immediately internalize it, we immediately put it towards ourselves. And it’s a personal attack on us. And we just we do this naturally. So it’s hard. It’s difficult to you know, combat something like that when it’s your first instinct to react that way.

Emma [16:12] Yeah. And speaking of that, Kelly, can you tell us a little bit more about your [company]? You built a company, right? And it’s quite impressive, especially because you’re not old? As far as we know, maybe you are, we actually don’t know.

Kelly [16:23] I’m 48.

Emma [16:25] You’re 48? Okay, well, you look great. Could you tell us a little more about imposter syndrome in regards to like building your own company?

Kelly [16:32] Yeah. So I am 28. And yeah, so I’ve built this company. And I’ve worked with so many business owners with online stores making way more money than I could ever dream of making. I’m talking $10 - $40 million a year. And yet they come to me for advice on how to run their business. And it’s surreal. You know, when you’re in a call, and you’re like, “oh, should we make this really major change to our website? Like, do you think it’ll impact our sales?” And I know how to respond to it and give them the proper advice. And even though I’ve been in the Shopify space for almost five years now, every single time this comes up, I’m always thinking to myself who am I to be telling you how to run your business?

Lindsey [17:14] I can only imagine how tough that is because you’re Shopify plus expert. But you’re talking to these people who might not have any clue about the web, or how Shopify works, but they are definitely successful business people. And I can’t even imagine how hard it is to get out of your shell with that,

Kelly [17:43] Especially when I have no background in business. Like my bachelors is in psychology, and I have two masters degrees in public health and social work, which is not at all related to development. And it’s not at all related to business. But I’m just figuring it out as I go.

Lindsey [17:56] What a double whammy too. But yeah, it’s kind of interesting to me how, when you get that one comment, you really, really remember it, even if it was the smallest comment. For example, I remember this one comment where I posted about tooltips and making accessible tooltips on Twitter. And I remember it was something I had experienced directly, like in terms of the code. Something I had to deal with, and a problem I had to solve. But it wasn’t necessarily the best practice of when you use tooltips. And I had one person who I super respect, basically telling me that that was wrong. And I remember wanting to quit, quite frankly, and it wasn’t even that big of a deal. It was just, I could stand up for myself. And I could say this is the situation I had, I prefer to do things this other way. But I had client [requirement]. And this is how I made this accessible. So this is the thing that I did. And it was nice to explain that. But I definitely needed a pep talk. I actually talked to Cher Scarlett. She was super great at helping me push through that because I felt like I didn’t know about accessibility, and I wasn’t qualified to do it. And that’s a huge identity crisis for me because that’s literally what my entire career is about.

Emma [19:31] Yeah. And to that point, Lindsey, like, it’s really hard to receive criticism from people that you respect, especially when it’s about your passion. But I think that this kind of goes to how people do give constructive criticism or do give feedback. And it’s like, let’s assume that they were trying to be helpful, but maybe the way they said it kind of enhanced our imposter syndrome. I think we forget the way in which we phrase things, especially because people interpret things differently through the internet and cross-culture, but the way that we phrase our words can have a positive impact, or they can have a negative impact, depending upon how we see things.

Lindsey [20:13] Totally. I actually think that’s if that was phrased completely differently. I could have been like, “Oh, yeah, I totally know that this was just a scenario that I dealt with at work. And this is how I made it work.” And if that were the case, I don’t think I would have shut down and how you deliver feedback is so so important. Kelly, didn’t you write a blog post or tweet thread about how to deliver feedback? I can’t remember.

Kelly [20:42] I did.

Lindsey [20:42] But yeah, it’s so important, because we’re all human. And we want to grow, and we want to rise above. But when it comes down to it, when you say it in a way that isn’t constructive, you shut down, like you’re just a human. That’s all that you can really respond to it. But let’s segue because Kelly, you were talking about being a business owner. And I actually would love to talk about that, because we talked about imposter syndrome a lot from the developer mindset. But I feel like when you go into entrepreneurship, that is a whole new can of worms. So when you started your agency, did you get imposter syndrome?

Kelly [21:21] That imposter syndrome still has not left. Let’s say that we are very good friends. The imposter syndrome is very much here on a day to day basis. And it becomes really, really difficult as an agency owner. And it took me a long time to even get to the point where I felt comfortable calling myself an agency owner. Like I felt like my business was not legitimate for a number of reasons. And the reasons don’t really matter that much. But the fact is, yeah, I absolutely did get imposter syndrome when I started my agency, and I still have imposter syndrome today.

Emma [21:55] One thing I want to quickly have a discussion on is, can imposter syndrome be a good thing, right? Because it makes you very self-aware of yourself but also other people’s time. So going back to getting paid to do things. If I’m getting paid to speak at a conference and I don’t have any imposter syndrome. Like maybe that’s not a good thing, right? Because you’re not going to be as aware of respecting others time and whatnot. So could this maybe not be such a bad thing? I think, yeah, it can be a bad thing in certain situations, like if it’s really affecting your mental health and making you question your life decisions. But to some extent, could this be a good thing?

Ali [22:32] Oh, I credit it to my success, to be totally honest with you. I don’t think I would work half as hard as I have. I’ve worked 2+ jobs for most of my career. And I don’t think I would have done that if I didn’t have really bad imposter syndrome, where I’m like, constantly trying to prove it to myself and other people that I can do this, that I can learn these things, [and] I could teach other people. And I think this whole internet thing, and working so hard at that has come up from imposter syndrome as well, in that I’m trying to teach myself things and share my knowledge and reinforce my own knowledge. And so I think honestly, my career would look so different if I didn’t have imposter syndrome. To be totally blunt.

Kelly [23:19] Absolutely. Imposter syndrome is a sign of vulnerability and acknowledging your imposter syndrome is embracing that vulnerability and allowing yourself to grow with it.

Lindsey [23:30] Totally, I think something regarding vulnerability, I think, for me, I’m pretty open on the internet about what I’m vulnerable about, [like] my mental health and when I’m struggling, and I think that actually makes people connect with you a lot better. And when you can connect with people, you can teach better, you can mentor better. It improves a lot. And every single person that I’ve looked up to has had imposter syndrome. And when I think about it, it’s because they were able to empathize with me. And they were able to understand what I was going through and give me the advice to help me push through those feelings when I was more junior. And I think that you’re a better teacher when you can empathize, and you’re a better mentor when you can empathize. And those are two really good qualities of senior developers. So when it comes down to it, if we’re going to do some sort of logical connection here, good senior developers probably have imposter syndrome or have experienced it at some point. But yeah,

Emma [24:40] Absolutely. I agree. So we’ve talked a lot about imposter syndrome, our kind of experience with it and all of that. But what are some of the things that we’ve had in our career, our wins essentially, that remind us that we belong here, that really validates how we feel in this industry? Ali? Why don’t you kick us off?

Ali [25:00] Yeah. For me, I think the top thing, at least when I was early in my career was getting my first performance review, and it was super, super positive. And getting a big raise and all that, and I think that that was really validating. For the first time, I was like, oh, I’m actually pretty good at writing code. And I’ve done a lot for this. But more recently, it’s definitely been teaching so many people to code, both online and in-person and seeing them grow and their success. And I think that that’s been so helpful for me. [It’s been] really great knowing that the stuff that I’m saying has some impact and that people are able to learn from my past too. So that’s been the biggest validator for me. How about you, Kelly.

Kelly [25:53] So mine’s also been putting out really great work. And having people openly recognize our work. I actually got an email last night. I’ve been kind of in the downward spiral of imposter syndrome for another agency project. And the guy I was talking to about this sent me an email last night, basically saying, I just wanted to remind you again, like I saw the headless commerce that you set up for yourself on your personal site, you do really great work. And I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that when you land this project, you’re going to absolutely kill it. And just seeing that positive email come in. It was a huge breath of fresh air. And then I also replied, Thanking him, saying like, you might need to send us like four more times.

Emma [26:38] I think we need to be better as a community at giving positive reinforcement. I don’t think we’re good enough at it. But if someone on your team or in your life is doing a great job in anything tell them, please.

Lindsey [26:51] Yes, exactly.

Kelly [26:52] Especially in the development field. Like there’s always the running joke that developers never get noticed until something breaks. That’s true.

Ali [26:59] Yeah. I’ve been trying recently to just dm people on Twitter that I think are doing great work, and just being like, thank you, this is really awesome. And keep doing what you’re doing. Because it’s cool.

Lindsey [27:10] I bet they lose their bleep when you do that!

Emma [27:18] I’m still waiting for my dm. So

Ali [27:21] I talk to you all so much. Usually, people that I know a little bit less, but you all are awesome, too.

Lindsey [27:27] You guys are all awesome.

Emma [27:29] I think my win was getting asked to speak at conferences. For a really long time, I’d been putting out all of these blog posts and getting over the fear of throwing my thoughts out into the void. And then when I got asked to speak of my first conference, it was like, oh, people know who I am now. And they liked my work. And they want me to share that with their community. So, for me, that was really a big win. But what about you, Lindsey?

Lindsey [27:53] So something that started happening a few years ago, like maybe two years ago, is at work, I started getting directly requested to be on projects, which was incredibly validating. So people liked working with me, clients liked working with me, project managers liked working with me, and they were impressed with my work. So I actually recently got a comment from my boss, and he said, “the reason why I was late to stand up is because we got caught up talking about you [with the client] and how we are happy with your work.” I mean, it made me tear up because I’m a sap, but it was very, very validating. Because when it comes down to it, being a developer isn’t just about code, it’s about being able to interact with people and communicate needs to people and get people’s problems solved. So that for me was incredibly validating. So

Kelly [28:56] It’s important to know we’re discussing our wins here and how this is a strategy for combating imposter syndrome. And this is something that I highly recommend everyone listening to this podcast that you do yourself. And when you get these wins, write them down, take a screenshot of an email, whatever it might be, and create a folder on your computer, or if you like going old school printed out and put it in an actual physical binder or something. And I have files saved on my computer that are just called for when I’m having a bad day. So I can go through them. And I’d be like, okay, I actually do really great work. So this, this will pass.

Ali [29:36] Yeah, so I hundred percent do that as well, especially with screenshots. I have lots of student reviews because they do surveys about my performance as a teacher or whatever. And so that’s for me is the feedback that I care about most. And so I have a lot of those saved, I organize them all through notions that they’re across computers in case I change one, high tech. So I highly recommend this. And it’s huge. When you’re asking for a raise at work, you can pretty much just copy-paste things or put those screenshots into that negotiation letter. So I can’t recommend it enough.

Emma [30:12] Yeah, that’s what I was going to say is, it’s not just good for boosting your own morale. But it’s, you’re going to need this at some point when you go for a promotion. Because I think we all forget that you actually have to work like to prove your value to get a promotion that is not just going to be handed to you most of the time that you actually have to put together like a portfolio or at least have things to show your boss that they can then take their boss to show you know your value. So it saves a ton of time.

Lindsey [30:36] Yeah, it’s well, it’s nice, too. Because when it comes down to that, being an advocate for yourself is the best thing you can do. And I don’t want to say nobody’s going to stick up for you, because that’s not true. But when you’re working, you have to be your own advocate. And we have a lot of tendencies to be like, oh, we’re not good enough, especially around promotion time. It’s easy to be like I’m not good enough for this promotion. But even just going back to that folder and remember, “Oh, that’s why I’m good enough.” This client said something super great about me, and hey, our clients make us money. So yeah, our client likes us and wants me on their project. Give me a raise.

Emma [31:18] So I think one of the hardest things though, in overcoming imposter syndrome, because I don’t believe personally, you can overcome it, you can do things to kind of diminish it a little bit. But one of the hardest problems to get over is comparing yourself with others. I do this all the time. It’s like oh, well, I might be doing cool stuff, but Ali’s doing even cooler stuff with Python. And I want to do that. And it’s like, that’s not the way to overcome imposter syndrome, right? You shouldn’t compare yourself to others, you should compare yourself to where you were yesterday.

Lindsey [31:49] Totally. Cuz, you know, I think about when I started teaching myself web Dev, I started teaching myself around Thanksgiving 2012. And I remember this because of where I was, and my dad set up a dual boot Linux Ubuntu instance on my Windows computer. Because he’s like, you want to do it on Linux, I promise that you don’t want to do it on Windows. And I remember getting that all setup and figuring out how to do things. And I just think of how clueless I was back then and how I literally didn’t know anything, and now I can actually talk proficiently about most of the things I was clueless about. So I think when it comes down to it, it is the journey and how far you’ve come. And there are so many people in this world who are doing better than I am. But who knows what their journey looks like. It’s all very, very different.

Emma [32:44] We also take for granted that these journeys are easy, right? Like you see people. Okay, so for us specifically, I feel as though we all achieved a level of success quite early on in our careers. We’re all young, right? And so people can see that and think that it was easy. I can tell you that absolutely, it was not easy. I mean, for the first two years of my career, two to three years, I cried a lot of the time because I did not know what I was doing. And it was really hard. And like people only see the good things. And I think that all of us are pretty good at kind of discussing, also the negative things online. And I think we need to be more open and honest about it.

Ali [33:20] Agreed. I think that people also tend to think that everybody’s starting from the same place, and they’re decidedly not. I see this a lot with students is that they’re all at the boot camp together. And so, you know, I should be learning this super, super-fast, because x person is learning it super, super fast. It’s like, well, that person also has a master’s in math and has been coding since they were eight years old. And you just started learning how to code two weeks ago. And so yeah, you’re not going to be at the same place that they’re at. But they’ve also been doing this for a lot longer. And so nobody’s journey is going to look the same, everybody’s is going to be super, super different. You can’t compare yourself. And I totally agree with Emma’s point to that. You see people being successful and all the things that they’re doing online, but you don’t see how much goes into that. I think I posted yesterday that I normally work from when I wake up to when I go to sleep almost every day. And I think that you all can probably relate to that as well, that a lot goes on behind the scenes that that isn’t necessarily all over the internet,

Emma [34:27] We talked about that on our blogging episode, I think it was or side project balance, where we discussed what we give up to reap these kinds of benefits, right? Like, I don’t have much of a social life, you know, Ali, maybe doesn’t sleep more than three hours a night. So these, these things are hard earned. And they’re done behind the curtain that people don’t typically see.

Lindsey [34:48] And you said you spent the first two years of your career like crying a lot, I cannot tell you how much I’ve cried over imposter syndrome. And I’ve wanted to quit tech so many times because I didn’t feel good enough. And like I thought… Okay, I need to stop talking about this, because I’ll start tearing up. And I need to keep myself together for this podcast. But you know, I spent a good chunk of the first half of my career as a web developer crying about how I was never going to make the money that I should because I was never going to be good enough. So I was always going to be the junior, and I think back now and I really just want to go and give that girl a hug. Because that was a very hard time in my life. And I’m really thankful that I pushed through it and had the support. But yeah, so with that, with that being said, Kelly because you wrote an entire blog post on imposter syndrome. And so what have you benefited from being open about it?

Kelly [35:59] I think a lot of it has just normalized the situation for me. We’re all going through this in some form or another whether you [have] two years of experience, or you have 20 years of experience. Imposter syndrome is always going to rear its ugly head in some form. And in being open about it and discussing these kinds of situations that have come up where you’re struggling, there is somebody out there who will very much just be like, Yes, I also struggling with this, or I did struggle with this. And this is how I got past it.

Lindsey [36:28] Yeah, being open… there are going to be maybe one or two people who are a jerk. But when it comes down to it, most of the people who you want to interact with have dealt with it at some point. And being open and vulnerable about it has probably been one of the most helpful things in my career because I was not open about my imposter syndrome the first year. And that’s why I cried. But once I opened up about it, I was like, Oh my goodness, this person who has had 5, 6, 7, 8 years of experience also feels this way, I’m not alone here. And this is actually normal. And it made me come to terms with those feelings. It’s really therapeutic to just share it and realize that you are not alone. Every single person who you look up to has that feeling to some degree.

Kelly [37:24] Exactly. And on that note, we’re going to discuss one of our listener wins. So if you want to have your win featured, subscribe to our newsletter. We have a form in there for you to submit your win. And this week’s win goes to Cecilia who just graduated from the full-stack software engineering boot camp at Georgia Tech and landed her first job as a junior software developer. So congratulations, Cecilia, Emma, what is your win this week.

Emma [37:52] So my team on coding coach has been doing a really amazing job trying to get our full platform built with our database, and all of that stuff being set up. And they’re making a ton of progress. So I just want to give them a quick shout out for their win on making progress.

Kelly [38:11] It’s awesome. Lindsey, what about you?

Lindsey [38:13] So last episode, I talked about my engagement pictures. And I want to say that I survived my 106 heat index for my engagement shoot. It was so hot! So if you are not in America, that’s about 41 degrees Celsius. So it’s very hot.

Kelly [38:38] Yeah. Did you look that up? Or did you actually know what the conversion was?

Lindsey [38:42] No, I looked it up because I had friends that I wanted to tell how hot it was. And they’re like, oh, goodness, that is very hot. Can’t believe you’re outside. But it was super perfect. Because we had a cold front come through. And literally, the moment that she shot the last picture, it started raining. And it was nice because it didn’t rain on us. But it was also nice because it finally cooled off. When we were driving back home, it went from 106 to 73 degrees, which is 41 degrees to like 23 or 24 degrees Celsius. So I also looked that up, I think… watch me be wrong. So Kelly, what about your win?

Kelly [39:25] So I started my own online store. Because I build these stores for my clients as my day to day job. Why not run my own. So I’ve been putting a bunch of products in the store with developer jokes that I often post on Twitter and

Emma [39:41] Kelly, you’re not funny, though!

Kelly [39:43] I know. Sorry, guys. You know, I even say in the description, like these are really bad developer jokes, but for whatever reason, people are still buying the product. So it’s really great when they buy a product of like, that has my bad code on it. Because everyone’s walking around drinking coffee with my bad code. And it just makes me feel really good about myself.

Emma [40:04] You know what the best part is like your bad code is everyone else’s bad code. We all write bad code. Yeah,

Kelly [40:08] That’s right. Ali, what is your win?

Ali [40:12] Yeah, so I spoke at CodeLand this past week. And it was the most nervous I’ve ever been for a talk by like 800 times because I was sharing my real story and sharing a lot of personal information and how I felt about harassment and all that stuff. And I made it through it. And I gave my full talk, and I didn’t cry on stage. So that was a big one for me.

Emma [40:37] That is awesome. And with that, we just want to thank you all for listening today. We hope that our conversation about imposter syndrome may be kind of validated how you’re feeling and made you feel a little bit better like you’re not alone. And we’re looking forward to seeing you next time.

Kelly [40:51] Oh, and one more thing, make sure you post on Twitter, you subscribe, and we’re going to be sending one of our listeners on Twitter some stickers.

Emma [41:00] Who doesn’t love stickers,

Ali [41:02] Make sure to subscribe and rate us on your podcast host of choice. So that you know about our new episodes that come every Monday. See you next week.