Imposter Syndrome is real
Struggles of an aging Software Engineer
Writing software has always been a creative process for me. The solving of a small bug or building of a big feature has given me the same pleasure that I get from reading Emily Dickinson, Evelyn Waugh, Christopher Hitchens, or Richard Dawkins. As asinine as it might sound, I used to celebrate every bug fix with a pumped fist. Writing code was cathartic, enjoyable, and liberating; all at the same time. As I got older, I have gotten slower. I have gotten measurably slower at solving problems, and slower at picking up new technologies
The past few years, I realize that I have been falling short in a lot more in my programming tasks. I’ve introduced bugs or have struggled building features from ground up in timely fashion. I have increasingly grown frustrated with my slowdown at solving problems, and this frustration fed into a programming pattern where I’ve introduced bugs and built sub-optimal features. Things started unraveling and got to a state where I feared writing code. I was terrified of opening the IDE and typing code. This fear is paralyzing.
The one thing that I reveled in, paralyzed me.
Imposter Syndrome is real and dangerous
It was a vicious cycle that I struggled to get out of. I still am in the process of
recovering from this episode, but I hope to share here the things I did to help me get out of my funk
- Small changes to my programming habits -
- Avoided using IDEs.
viwas a cocoon that I fell back into and continued to love it
- Switch out out of Mac’s dark mode and realized how productive I became right away. Something in the way I am wired made me despise dark mode so I’m not going back to
- Got a new pair of reading glasses
- Acceptance of limitations - Conversations with some close friends helped, and an explicit acknowledgment that I will get slower as I get older.
- Re-evaluated career trajectory - This was and is a hard one and I am still assessing what I want/should do. Questions like
- How long should I continue in an IC role?
- Is continuing to be in this role something that plays to my strengths?
- Is management a path I should take up?
- Talk to your boss - I am immensely fortunate to work for a manager who is empathetic and cognizant of my struggles. Not everyone has the luxury of an empathetic manager, or work in an industry wherein failures are tolerated, celebrated, and encouraged.
I do want to leave you with three thoughts
- Be kind to yourself and fellow software engineers
- Rely on your trusted circle to help you during difficult times
- Be mindful of ageism in addition to other implicit/explicit biases you may possess. Today’s Software Engineer is tomorrow’s