byAbimbola Abe

Actionable Steps to Become a Better Programmer

I looked at her in disbelief.

C'mon Bimbs, stop looking at me that way. I know I'm not good enough; the design is poor, in fact really bad. No one is ever going to like them.

I stared at the design once more and I wish, I just wish she knew.

Well, you're lucky; it's just this scornful look I'm giving you. If I can slap sense into your head right now, trust me, I will.

Bunmi a graphic designer that doesn’t believe her achievements are as a result of her skills and how much effort she put into her works. She sees herself as a fraud.

Have you ever felt like you're living a fake life??  Have you ever felt you don't deserve whatever it is you've achieved, have you ever felt you don't qualify for a particular job because you’re under qualified?

Well, fret not it’s not just you or Anu, most of us are like that.  I was once like that myself-maybe I still am.

There are times where I easily get lost in a conversation because I don’t know half of the technologies other developers are talking about. To make matter worse, I constantly feel like I’m falling behind the next, hot framework or language.


These negative emotions are very common. If you sometimes feel that way (cheer up, you are not alone!)


Besides everyone has experienced this feeling at some point in their life, whether professional or personal- it’s not just within software development. It’s human nature. The most successful and productive are often very effective at minimizing the occurrences of imposter syndrome in their lives.


Research has shown that both male and female experience imposter syndrome and affects all kinds of people from all parts of life; women, men, medical students, marketing managers, actors and executives.

My personal experience as a web developer and the advice from mentors I’ve worked with, in this article, I’ll be breaking down the common root causes of this emotion and actionable steps to overcome one.


Why do you feel left behind?


 Software development never stops evolving:  The use of software is expanding. It’s a large field and it’s only going to get bigger. Not only are more people entering as new developers, the demands for developers are also going up. This encourages the frequent creation of new languages, framework and tools. Which means there’s more to learn and it’s only going to get more complex as the industry matures. This can cause you to feel overwhelmed as a developer.


Media’s unrealistic perception of the tech industry


Software development has a mythos around it that says only the super smart people are able to grasp it. It might have been so in the past but programming tools have come a long way and made programming a lot easier and more approachable. This misconception of brilliance being a prerequisite for developers and the pressure to stay current with latest technology can lead you to focus on what you don’t know and fuels the feeling of inadequacy. You may find yourself start to work harder and longer, downplaying your achievement and crediting luck for your success instead of your skill as a developer. Soon enough you’re a victim of imposter syndrome.




FOCUS ON PROVIDING VALUE:  I feel like a fraud when I’m more concerned about myself. Imposter syndrome can happen when you focus so much on yourself. The fastest way to overcome feeling like an imposter is to genuinely try to help someone else.


BEING WRONG DOESN’T MAKE YOU A FAKE: Those expert programmers you look up to made series of mistake before getting to the level of expertise you admire now.  Making mistakes is all part of learning. Don’t glorify your failure, but don’t let it make you feel like you’re not a real contender either



CELEBRATE YOUR WINS:  we feel like a fraud because we are unable to internalize our successes. Each project you complete, no matter how imperfect it is, celebrate it. 


STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS: when I compare myself to expert programmers around me, I find myself in the trap of “I’m no good compared to that guy”. Turn off your Facebook for a minute, stop reading about the guy who has 10 apps hosted on play store, or 5 websites hosted online. Most of these people failed at some point but not everybody knows exactly when. So learn to respect your own experience. You’re not a fraud, you’re just you.



In my case, I’ve found that focusing on improving my mindset, coupled with regular meet-ups with people that knows better than I do has reduced my anxiety and panic that imposter syndrome created in the past. I feel that I enjoy coding more and I’m far better developer because of it.



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