Underestiming the Power of Coding

How I’m overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Learning coding has been like when I was little and wanted to play with my two older cousins, who didn’t want to play with me. I’d cling to the back of their shirts as they dragged me around the house trying to loosen my grip, so I’d leave them alone. This strategy mostly resulted in friction burn, tears, and rejection.

Similarly, learning JavaScript has mostly resulted in frustration, tears, and wounded pride. Everyday, I sit in the humbling discomfort of having no idea what’s going on and trusting that it’ll make sense one day.

As I wait for the elusive “a-ha!” moment, I’ve “flexed” aka repeated my first two units to give myself more time with the material. Not grasping something quickly wounds the pride of a high achiever, who’s always excelled at school. I’ve even unconsciously started saying out loud: “I’m smart. I can figure this out” because coding hasn’t made me feel that way.

The psychological shit that I’ve been dealing with is a new concept for me. It’s called Imposter Syndrome. According to Lambda School, Imposter Syndrome is when “we feel and believe we may not be capable of doing a task or taking on a role, despite available evidence to the contrary.”

When Imposter Syndrome sets in, I transform into the little girl clinging onto the back of my cousins’ shirts, hoping that they’ll give up, or choke, and let me play with them. Wrong. Forcing them to play with me never worked out as I wanted. Just like forcing JavaScript to click hasn’t been working out as I’ve wanted.

The main issue is speed. Think of Aesop’s Fable, The Tortoise and the Hare. I’m the tortoise, learning at a slow and steady pace. But, I’m supposed to be the hare. Not being able to keep up with the hare makes the comparison game real. However, as Ali Spittel suggests in her blog article Managing Imposter Syndrome, “only compare yourself to your previous self. Nobody else. Focus on your growth. Everyone else is starting with different base knowledge and experience. It’s unfair to hold yourself to anyone else’s speed or level of knowledge.” This of course is easier said than done.

No one wants to get left in the dust. In the past, I could easily hang up my tortoise shell and put on some fluffy, white rabbit ears to become the hare. Being super productive and getting things done fast is my default setting because that’s how I’ve been programmed to achieve.

However, learning how to code has challenged that default setting because it isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon. Reprogramming myself to be comfortable doing things differently like hanging up my fluffy, white rabbit ears and putting on my tortoise shell is, of course, easier said than done.

The biggest “a-ha!” moment I’ve had is embracing my inner tortoise. In other words, I’ve accepted that I can’t show up as exactly the same person everyday. As I’ve learned from Kate Northrup in Do Less, “because we live in a patriarchy that celebrates the masculine over the feminine, our whole world is set up to support a 24-hour cycle, not a 28-day cycle.” Men cycle through all the phases in one day, which just means that men’s bodies and energy work best on a 24-hour schedule. Hence, why everything is designed around 24-hours.

However, women cycle on a 28-day rotation during reproductive years. This means that there are times in my 28-day cycle that align with the hare’s fast-paced energy, but there are equally as many times that align with the tortoise’s slow-paced energy. So, expecting myself to embody the hare energy if it doesn’t align with my natural energy is fighting a losing battle. The better I’ve become at aligning my natural energy with my work the more successful I’ve become.

Originally, I thought that the only way to be a successful programmer was to embody the fast-paced, masculine energy of the hare. Yes, AND, it’s more complicated than that. To be a successful programmer, I need to know when to embody the hare AND when to embody the tortoise AND when to listen to my body’s natural rhythm.

So, beware. Coding has magic powers. It may teach you important lessons that aren’t actually coding. It can teach you how to listen to yourself.

What’s been an important lesson you’ve learned from coding? Have you struggled with Imposter Syndrome? What tips do you have for overcoming it? Feel free to leave a comment below.

This article originally appeared on https://lizapincsak.com/blog/2020/imposter-syndrome.html.



Full Stack Web Development Student at Lambda School

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