Impostor Syndrome: that feeling of doubt about yourself and your accomplishments, and the fear of being exposed as a fraud. It’s a common topic for entry-level candidates:
- “I don’t belong here.”
- “They’re going to find out I don’t know what I’m doing.”
- “I got here through luck, mostly.”
All these can be evidence of impostor syndrome, and thankfully, there’s an increasing awareness of this mentality and its dangers.
But lately, I’ve been seeing the completely wrong response to this.
When I interview junior developers for our engineering apprenticeship (pssst: we’re hiring!), most of them are aware of this syndrome, and they’ll mention that it’s something they need to overcome and fight against.
That’s the wrong attitude to have.
Don’t fight Impostor Syndrome—embrace it.
Embrace not feeling confident.
Embrace the feeling that you’re in over your head.
Embrace making decisions with less than perfect information.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should feel worthless or that you’re a fraud. Rather, it’s an acknowledgment that, in entry-level jobs, you actually don’t have much experience. The people around you likely do know better than you on a lot of things.
And the whole point is: that’s okay.
Everyone with more experience than you started in exactly the same position you are right now. So lean on that. Learn as much as you can. Don’t be afraid to chime in with your ideas, but be ready for those ideas the be wrong as well.
The point of understanding Impostor Syndrome is not to deny the reality with positive affirmations that you actually are an expert. The point is to recognize the reality of your inexperience and embrace that discomfort.
How to Fight Impostor Syndrome
So, how do the best high-functioning people fight it? If you have a low tolerance for self-help fluff, it can feel overwhelming or fake to try to fight it, but there are tools and ways of thinking you can use without falling trap to self-help gurus.