Overcoming imposter syndrome

You and I, we're all the same.

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July 24, 2020

(2 min read)

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Imposter syndrome has been something I've dealt with my whole life. And it seems to follow me, no matter what position I'm in or where I go.

In middle school, I was in awe of high schoolers and how much they seemed to know. When I became a high school student, I was intimidated by college students who had started to creep their way into the working world. Now, as a college student in that position, I feel like an imposter around students with impressive resumes, including those who interviewed me to join different student organizations.

It was after joining one of those organizations that I started to see how wrong my perceptions were. These students weren't superhuman figures, they were just kids with hobbies, interests, and really cool personalities.

At that point, I'd realized the fact that's helped me get through future instances of imposter syndrome: everyone's a human being, just like you and I.

That includes Jeff Bezos, your job interviewer, your high school teacher, your mentor. They're all humans, who've probably gone through the same experiences you have. At some point, your job interviewer was the interviewee. They know your heart's racing, that there are thick beads of sweat building up around your temple, that your brain is just 70% in the game — because they've been there.

This lesson has helped me in so many places. At work, I'm constantly confused with our massive codebase. Asking questions was a pretty scary thing, especially at the beginning. I didn't want to seem like I didn't know what I was doing, or that I wasn't capable. Plowing through the unknown headfirst didn't work so well for me — I later found out that those confusing things I'd spent 3 hours on could be answered in a minute from someone who knew better. And there was never any judgement, because they'd been there themselves.

So don't sweat things too much. There's no need to put others on a pedestal. Just see them as another person, not too different from yourself, in a position you want to get to. Reach and ask for help; chances are, they'd be happy to.

Roland Shen

@roland

Building Imprint!

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