Developer Imposter Syndrome

Developer Imposter Syndrome

What is Imposter Syndrome?


Imposter syndrome according to wikipedia is a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. 'Imposters' suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence. Now that is out of the way why am I writing on Imposter syndrome? According to figures, developers are particularly prone to impostor syndrome.

But today we are talking about Developer Imposter Syndrome or I like to call it DIS. DIS affects both junior, mid-level & senior developers making them dwell on the knowledge and coding languages that they don’t know. They scuffle to know their value and negatively compare their skills against the skills of others.


Characteristics of Imposter Syndrome

This are qualities one exhibit that shows he/she suffer from imposter syndrome one way or the other:

  1. Self-doubt
  2. An inability to realistically assess your competence and skills
  3. Attributing your success to external factors
  4. Berating your performance
  5. Fear that you won't live up to expectations
  6. Overachieving
  7. Sabotaging your own success
  8. Self-doubt
  9. Setting very challenging goals and feeling disappointed when you fall short

I use to struggle with number 9 once, I remember I do create a list of what I want to do the next day, the list can entail 20 activity to be achieved in a day goal, challenges that would take a month to complete I would want to complete it in a week. At the end of the day after failing to complete the objectives I laid down for myself I begin to doubt myself and my ability to achieve anything.

The problem with Developer Impostor Syndrome is that the experience of doing well at something does nothing to change your beliefs. Even though you might sail through a performance or push an update earlier than anyone, the thought still nags in your head, "What gives me the right to be here?" The more you accomplish, the more you just feel like a fraud. It's as though you can't internalize your experiences of success.




It is estimated that 70% of people will experience at least one episode of this phenomenon in their lives. If you think you might have imposter syndrome, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do you attribute your success to luck or outside factors?

  2. Do you agonize over even the smallest mistakes or flaws in your work?

  3. Do you downplay your own expertise, even in areas where you are genuinely more skilled than others?

  4. Do you agonize over even the smallest mistakes or flaws in your work?

The negative thinking, self-doubt, and self-sabotage that often characterize imposter syndrome can have an effect on many areas of your life.



Certain factors can contribute to the more general experience of impostor syndrome. For example, you might have come from a family that highly valued achievement or had parents who flipped back and forth between offering praise and being critical.

We also know that entering a new role can trigger impostor syndrome. For example, starting university or college or starting a new position in your place of work might leave you feeling as though you don't belong and are not capable.

In the world of programming, developers of any experience or education can fall prey to developer impostor syndrome. This is, perhaps, due to the very nature of the tech industry. With so many approaches, languages, and methods in circulation, it’s impossible for any developer to know everything.

Plus, as we gain new technology and understanding, previous methods can become obsolete. As such, development is a role in which programmers need to be constantly learning and open to new ideas and practices.

So, when new or unknown methods, languages, and tools are needed, it’s easy for developers to feel inadequate. If unchecked, this can graduate to developer impostor syndrome.

The effect of Developer Imposter Syndrome

Developer impostor syndrome negatively affects the sufferer's productivity and the development in the industry as a whole. It’s easy for developer impostor syndrome to spiral out of control. Sufferers can become unwell, depressed, or burnt-out as they try to keep up with perceived goals.

Developer impostor syndrome can causes problems for the industry. This is because people that pursue an interest in the field are more likely to quit or leave the industry early on due to feelings of inadequacy.

Managing Developer Imposter Syndrome


One of the biggest problems with developer impostor syndrome is the fact that it never really goes away. For programmers that do manage to overcome it, advancements in technology can easily cause the experience to reoccur 🥶. These tactics will help manage your imposter syndrome:

  1. Embrace it The first step to dealing with developer impostor syndrome is to learn to embrace it. This means remembering and recognizing that development is a role that requires constant learning. Developers should remind themselves that it’s impossible to know every new tool, language, and so on as soon as they’re released.

  2. Take baby steps Don't focus on doing things perfectly, but rather, do things reasonably well and reward yourself for taking action.

  3. Keep track of your achievements Developer impostor syndrome is caused by not recognizing your achievements and abilities and comparing yourself to other developers. So, a good way to combat developer impostor syndrome is to keep track of your achievements.

You could do this by creating a portfolio or timeline of your successes and your work, along with any time that you embraced new methods and growth. If you must then compare yourself to someone, compare your progress to your past self. In fact, a friend of mine actually does this LordGhostX he created a timeline where he shows his past, present, and upcoming achievement. This can help you see how much you’ve grown and improved throughout your development career.

  1. Stop comparing I feel this is common among youth, teens, and adults. But every time you compare yourself to others in a social situation, you will find some fault with yourself that fuels the feeling of not being good enough or not belonging.

  2. Share your feelings Talk to a friend, a mentor, or someone about how you are feeling. These irrational beliefs tend to fester when they are hidden and not talked about... ( The numbers listing isn't following themselves 😬 )


Remember that if you are feeling like an impostor, it means you have some degree of success in your life that you are attributing to luck 😬 which is not supposed to be... Making mistakes and being wrong doesn't mean you are an imposter, it simply means you are achieving, learning, and moving forward ⏩ ⏩ ⏩.