Mental health and imposter syndrome in the tech industry

Post • 3 min read

In the fast-paced and highly complex world of technology, feelings of self-doubt are more common than many might think. You constantly encounter colleagues who achieve extraordinary things, while your own work seems trivial in contrast.

Thoughts like, “I might get found out”, “They’ll discover how much I don’t know,” or “During meetings, I feel out of my depth as colleagues discuss unfamiliar topics,” frequently cross your mind. You feel perpetually behind, regardless of how much you learn and grow in your field.

This constant comparison with others who seem more capable fuels a nagging fear of being exposed as a fraud.

This fear is called impostor syndrome, a psychological phenomenon where individuals doubt their accomplishments and fear being unmasked as a 'fraud', despite evidence of their competence.

And many IT professionals experience imposter syndrome at some point in their careers. According to a survey conducted by Blind, as many as 58 percent of tech workers feel like impostors from time to time.

So, how can we deal with this tech imposter syndrome? I’ll address a few of these worries and how to handle them in this blog.

Awareness is key

It's important to understand that nothing is really wrong with you. Many people are suffering from similar thoughts.

Reflecting on your thoughts and understanding that they’re a product of this high-pressure ecosystem can bring a sense of relief. It’s important to remember that feeling overwhelmed at times is a normal reaction to the extraordinary demands of the tech world.

Recognising this can help reframe your mindset, allowing you to see these thoughts for what they are: a reaction, not a reality.

This awareness also opens the door to more compassionate self-evaluation. Instead of harsh self-judgment, acknowledge the complexity of your field. It’s about giving yourself credit for navigating a dynamic and very complex landscape, understanding that learning and growth are ongoing processes.

Have a toolkit at hand

There are some ‘tools’ you can arm yourself with to be more resilient to these feelings. Here are some practical methods to help maintain awareness and fight against Impostor Syndrome:

Regular self-reflection

Set aside time for regular self-reflection. Realize that these thoughts are normal and unjustified. Reflect on when and why they occurred. Accept them but don't let them put you down, take a step back and think objectively about these situations.

Seek feedback and mentorship

Don’t hesitate to ask for feedback. Constructive Feedback can help you understand your strengths and areas for improvement. It also helps you to get an unbiased overview of your work. Additionally, seeking mentorship can provide guidance and reassurance.

Limit comparison

Avoid constant comparison with others. Remember that everyone’s journey is unique, and don’t compare yourself behind-the-scenes with someone else. Remember in most situations you will only see the good aspects of your counterpart anyway.

Embrace imperfection

Accept that perfection is an illusion and that making mistakes is a normal part of the learning process. Learn from failures and move forward.

Let’s open it up.

It's crucial to acknowledge that mental health in the tech industry is a major issue. We need to be more open about that. Imposter syndrome is common and simply recognizing and realizing the symptoms can help you cope better.

There are many strategies to deal with it yourself, including realistic self-reflection or asking for feedback to evaluate situations without being influenced. If you reach a point where you can no longer cope on your own, you should definitely seek outside help. Accept yourself as you are.
Feeling a similar way? I’d be happy to hear your thoughts.

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Miro Behninger LinkedIn
Cloud Engineer