July 27, 2022

Imposter Syndrome is not new to me. And fast and aggressive startups only make it worse.

Being a self-taught developer, I have struggled with it and continue to do so. Self-doubt, the fear of being “discovered” and making wrong calls because I missed the obvious, often lurk in the background.

Over the years, I have learned to manage it. Here’s my 5-point strategy against imposter syndrome.

See beyond the calamity.

Only way out is through. So when I feel my extreme anxiety creeping back in - I acknowledge it and accept it. I let the walls collapse. I accept that I might not be good enough for the opportunity. I accept that I might fail, get fired or disappoint.

And then I draw my options from that bad situation.

For example, when looking my first job as a Software Engineer in the industry, I gave myself a deadline. If I hadn’t made it in 6 months, I’d accept that I wasn’t good enough and go back to Grad School. I did not get to even 3 months, but it helped me focus.

Use the count. And repeat.

Numbers beat anxiety.

It took

  • 27 online courses to get my first “live” software project.
  • 180 FreeCodeCamp challenges till I finally “got” Frontend.
  • 6 practice tests and ~400 questions to “pass” my Cloud Engineer certification.

I cannot control outcomes. So I control lists.

Find a niche. Just one thing.

When I moved from Architecture to Computational Architecture, I specialized in Building Information Modeling (BIM). I read PhD theses’, papers, learned to extend BIM with plugins and seeked internships in that one niche domain.

When I become a Senior Engineer, I zero-ed in on React Performance. I did deep-dives on the framework, learned about render cycles and optimizations, used Performance Tools, and consolidated it all into tech talks.

When faced with overwhelming whitespace, it works to find that one small corner and make it your own. And then grow from there.

Build a village.

Meaningful work relationships are the source for my periodic encouragement boosts.

  • While preparing for Software Engineering interviews, a friend walked me through setting up an entire fullstack app from scratch.
  • My first job as an engineer, Senior Engineers would not only give feedback, but also encouragement and leads.
  • As I took on Lead Engineer, my mentors and bosses pushed me to trust my gut and speak up.

Everytime I am in doubt, I count on my village to be a hangout, whatsapp or hotpot consultation away!


You are what you do. When your brain lies to you, you fight it with proof. Proof in things that you do daily. Imposters don’t code, read and design systems everyday. So everytime I find myself unsteady, I go back to habits and depend on those till my brain shuts up.