Imposter Syndrome-Driven Development

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“Maybe I’m fooling everyone… I’m not good enough for this, and at this point, it is a question of time until everyone figures it out” these might be the words that cross your mind as your coworker compliments you for doing another fantastic job at delivering a new feature. As you grow in your career, so does your uncertainty. You put in the extra hours, learn all the new technologies, and join all the initiatives you can, but at the end of the day, it never feels enough. At this point, that feeling is leading your actions and decisions. It is the thing that is driving your career. Only one question persists: Are you really an imposter?

Daniel Afonso
Daniel Afonso
31 min
09 Mar, 2023

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Video Summary and Transcription

Imposter syndrome is a common experience that can lead to self-doubt and feeling like a fraud. The speaker shares their personal journey with imposter syndrome in school and throughout their career in software development. They discuss the challenges and doubts they faced, as well as the strategies they used to overcome imposter syndrome. The importance of support from managers, celebrating achievements, and sharing experiences to help others are highlighted. The talk emphasizes the need to embrace imposter syndrome and use it as a motivator for personal growth.

1. Introduction to Imposter Syndrome

Short description:

Have you ever felt like you're not enough? Like you're fooling everyone and not good enough? These thoughts often lead to imposter syndrome, making you doubt yourself and feel like a fraud.

Hi there, everyone. Before I start this talk, let me ask you something. Have you ever felt like this? Maybe I'm not enough. I'm fooling everyone. I'm not good enough for this. Then, in another scenario, you finish an achievement that took you a while to complete, and you think, yeah, now this task is done, what is next? Someone congratulates you because he thinks you should celebrate, but you immediately think, yeah, no, I've just been lucky. Then, you're working on a task that's something that you haven't fully mastered and your head goes immediately into the I'm in way over my head mode. It's immediate. It's something you cannot complete, so you ask for help from a coworker and the coworker comes and fixes it like this. It's immediate. Then, you just feel that this person is way smarter than me. What am I doing here? All of these things often lead to the feeling of you'll soon find out I'm a fraud. If these are things that have crossed your mind, that you're suffering with, it makes you doubt yourself and, at the end of the day, makes you feel like a fraud, then you have just met your imposter.

2. Imposter Syndrome Driven Development

Short description:

Welcome to my talk called Imposter Syndrome Driven Development. I'm Danilo Alfonso, a developer advocate at YLX Group, an IGED.io instructor, and an Auth0 ambassador. I had a conversation with someone who also experiences imposter syndrome, which made me realize I was not alone. This prompted me to do some research and reflect on when my imposter syndrome started. It began in the middle of my life, around sixth grade when my grades started to decline and I lost interest in school.

Welcome to my talk called Imposter Syndrome Driven Development. I'm Danilo Alfonso. I'm a developer advocate at YLX Group. I'm an IGED.io instructor. I'm an Auth0 ambassador. You can find me on Twitter and pretty much anywhere at the handle danilo.alfonso.

You might be asking why imposter syndrome driven development? What prompted this talk? I was at a conference after I just finished what I still think, by this day, was the worst talk I ever did live. I was working in the main hall after I finished the talk, like I usually do, and I was chatting with people, meeting new friends, chatting about my talk and so on. And I still was feeling a bit bad. Until someone reached out to me, and this was pretty much how the conversation went. How are you able to learn so much to do a great talk like this one? To which I replied, yeah, I don't think it was much to be honest. Honestly, I don't think I did that well. To which the person answered, yeah, you did amazing, I wish I could do something like that. Most of the time I feel like I don't know enough and I'm just fooling my co-workers. And to be honest, this made me think. This person suffers from the same thing as I do. They have an imposter working around their shoulder. And, it also made me rethink my previous comment because my imposter talk by itself, by saying that my talk was nothing much and that I don't think I did that well might've made this person imposter feeling even worse. But either way, we had a lovely chat, we talked about tech, about career, about our imposter syndromes and all. This prompted me to think a bit more about my imposter syndrome. I was not alone, there was someone else feeling it and I was not aware until now. And so I did some research.

Then I got to the point to think, ok, but where did my imposter syndrome start? I did a retrospective and pretty much got to the conclusion, or something like this, that it came to the middle of my life. But just to recap to when was the moment that my imposter syndrome showed up, here are a couple of things that you need to know. So when I was around third grade, I was pretty much the type of student that didn't have to work hard to get what I wanted. I just needed to listen and I could put it to paper. It was, yeah, something good I guess, I had amazing grades during that time, without trying hard I guess. But then I reached sixth grade I think and that luck ended I guess, it didn't work anymore. I started having average bad grades and this kind of made me quit on school because I don't know it was not interesting anymore, I was not doing something that I liked. And then I got to high school.

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