The developer imposter syndrome

I met a developer friend at one of the dev meetups. As usual, we developers like to delve deep into all the cool shiny tools we are using and discuss the latest trending topics. We like to show up that we are smart and have great knowledge of our craft even when we don’t. Just last weekend while I was facilitating as a mentor at the recently concluded Innovation4Agriculture bootcamp, one the devs in the team I was working with started to probe my knowledge on specific tools/frameworks/libraries. His interested wasn’t to learn, but to show off that he was more knowledgeable than I was.

He asked “Do you know materialize?” to which I responded “No”. Then he continued what about {insert some other exotic library} to which again I responded “No”. I was really patiently waiting for his point. But it appears, he was just showing off.

Developers are some of the most insecure, less confident, anxious people. I know that from my close to decade experience as a dev and because at least half my friends are devs. And I get it. There’s so much to learn in very little time.

Software development is one of those careers where your knowledge is not exactly incremental. What you knew 2 years ago might be irrelevant today. I remember investing a lot of my time learning Angular 1 only to be completely overhauled in Angular 2! Very frustrating, but that’s the industry. As a result, developers put up a false face to cover up for their lack of competence in a specific area. We pretend to know something yet in fact we don’t. Developers are not honest with themselves or with the people they work with. Someone would rather lie that they know something so as to appear cool, updated and smart until of course the rubber meets the road.

Look. You don’t have to know everything and that’s entirely okay and it’s fine to admit NOT to knowing something. Any reasonable person understand that you can’t entirely keep up with how fast-paced the industry is. That’s why we organize events, so we learn from each other. That’s why there are code reviews to improve on one another. You are not a fraud. You shouldn’t have feelings of inadequacy just because you think you don’t know something or you are pressamputely not as good as your friend.

I am in my early 30s now. I work with an old Lenovo laptop that’s due for an upgrade running Linux. I still have projects in php codeigniter 2.0 somewhere. My family is growing which constantly needs more of time these days. So I don’t get to code as much as I used to. I certainly don’t know the latest javascript framework, In fact, I have lost count now(still happy with JQuery:) ).

But I don’t feel bad about myself. I don’t feel less of a developer now that I was 10 years ago. In fact I indeed to write code for the next 10+. I don’t have the so-called “imposter syndrome” and never will and so shouldn’t you.


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