It seems that the concept of “Impostor Syndrome” is every on the internet these days- so much so that people are feeling like impostors for claiming that they might have impostor syndrome. However, one group in which it is amazingly easy to suffer from impostor syndrome is among web developers, designers, and content creators.
There are several reasons why web developers can feel like impostors. As a developer, you are competing against the entire world in a situation that lacks definition and is constantly morphing into something new and, hopefully, better. As a designer you are expected to pull the perfect design out of a client’s head while also taking into consideration current trends and marketing standards— things that do not stay the same for long. As a content creator, you are expected to be an expert on everything, which is impossible.
I know when Nikola asked me to start this blog, I felt like an impostor. How could I write a blog for a web development company? The extent of my coding experience can be wrapped up in two simple twine games that were never published. Despite the fact that I am regularly running the financial and business side of Paiyak Development, I felt like I had no right to have a voice.
It is a common story in this industry, where the majority of us feel like we are faking it. So I thought I would share one of the best ways to combat impostor syndrome and to maintain your confidence in yourself: tutoring.
Whether you take your little niece under your wing for a summer of design training or you tutor beginning programmers online for extra cash, there are several ways that tutoring can help combat impostor syndrome.
Reinforce What You Know
One of the great things about tutoring is that you are generally working with people who know significantly less than you. This gives you the perfect opportunity to get back to the basics of your craft. Not only will you be strengthening your own skills by reinforcing the basics, but you will also increase your confidence because you will be dealing with topics that feel more concrete to you.
With how fast things change in web development, going back to the basics can seem like a waste of time. However, if you are doing so in order to help someone else, it will feel less like you are wasting your time and more like you are doing something critical to the advancement of your field. At the same time you will reinforce the things that you already know, making you less likely to feel like you are faking your expertise.
Add Value to a Situation
Sometimes it is easy to quantify your work and see the value that you provide. Other times you may find yourself questioning your product and methods and wondering if you are actually offering value to your clients and colleagues. However, with tutoring you can usually see an immediate, concrete impact of your efforts. You will be able to see your pupil’s skills increase and you will know that you helped affect their overall contribution to the web development community.
If you are feeling like you may not be adding value at the moment. If you feel stuck or like you are not quite as important as others might think you are, starting to tutor someone can remind you of the many skills you have to offer and the value that you contribute on every project that you work on.
Create Time to Explore
On top of the impostor syndrome, programmers have another issue to deal with. The concept of the Real Programmer as the ultimate programmer who eats, sleeps, and breathes code. They happily give overtime without realizing it and then they go home and program some more. This concept as the essence to live up to can make it difficult to see that you are a valuable developer even if you are not a “real programmer.” In the end, this concept can make you freeze, sticking to what you know so that you do not screw up in front of others and reveal that you are not a “real programmer.”
Tutoring gives you a time and place to explore concepts that you may not be comfortable with in a work environment. It allows you to figure out problems with your pupil and try out new and inventive approaches in a somewhat safe environment, unhindered by the idea of perfection and competition.
Impostor syndrome is an unfortunate reality of web development. However, by taking on an apprentice or tutoring others, you can combat your feelings of isolation and inadequacy.