How to know if you have imposter syndrome

Updated May 19, 2024#career#mental-health

I’ve been seeing the world Imposter Syndrome popping up everywhere recently, there are so many tweets and blogs talking about it, many developers admitted they are imposters. So is it that serious or it is just a buzzword in tech industry?

What is imposter syndrome?

“Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, impostorism, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud.” - Wikipedia

Imposters suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence. They seem unable to internalize their accomplishments, however successful they are in their field.

Imposters suffer from exhaustion, anxiety problems, stress, and even depression. They also tend not to talk about how they are feeling with anyone and suffer in silence, just as do those with social anxiety disorder.

Are you already affected?

Imposter syndrome can be defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. Let’s self diagnose some common feelings and symptoms:

  • I must not fail. You constantly remind yourself not to fail because you are really afraid of being found out, success become a big issue with high responsibility and inability to enjoy.
  • I feel like a fake. Seriously you feel you don’t deserve what you’ve achieved. You think you are not good enough to deserve a position or promotion because you have deep feelings that you lack of knowledge and expertise.
  • It’s all down to luck. You don’t have the gut to admit your own success, you often talk about your success as a result of luck.
  • Success is no big deal. As previous symptom, you often downplay your success and having a hard time accepting compliments.

Who are prone to this?

High achieving, highly successful people often suffer, so imposter syndrome doesn’t equate with low self-esteem or a lack of self-confidence.

Perfectionists set excessively high goals for themselves, and when they fail to reach a goal, they experience major self-doubt and worry about measuring up. Success is rarely satisfying because they believe they could’ve done even better.

People recognized as natural geniuses set their internal bar impossibly high, just like perfectionists. If they take a long time to master something, they feel shame.

Soloists like indie makers or solo founders firmly feel that they need to accomplish things on their own. They thought asking for help reveals their phoniness.

Experts fear being exposed as inexperienced or unknowledgeable, they shy away from applying to job postings unless they meet every single educational requirement

It seems developers are particularly affected—with close to 58% saying that they suffer from imposter syndrome according to a survey by Blind’s Work Talk.

Many self-taught developers are undoubtedly more likely to retain longer-lasting feelings of inferiority, despite measurable successes that follow them through their careers.

How to deal with this?

Awareness is the first step to change, so ensure you track these thoughts: what they are and when they emerge.

Talk to other people about how you are feeling. These irrational beliefs tend to fester when they are hidden and not talked about.

Be genuinely interested in learning more. Stop comparing 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.

There’s no shame in asking for help when you need it. If you don’t know how to do something, ask a co-worker. If you can’t figure out how to solve a problem, seek advice from a supportive supervisor, or even a career coach.

Remember that you are entitled to make small mistakes occasionally and forgive yourself. Don’t forget to reward yourself for getting the big things right.


I think this imposter syndrome is serious to be diagnosed as soon as possible. One prevention method I’m using very effectively is learning psychology which help me manage my emotional heath and increase self awareness.

In our society there’s a huge pressure to achieve. There can be a lot of confusion between approval and love and worthiness. Self-worth becomes contingent on achieving.

There is a good chance that you will discover someone else suffers from this syndrome as well, don’t hesitate to help them move forward from this.

I find that the very things that I get criticized for, which is usually being different and just doing my own thing and just being original, is the very thing that’s making me successful. (Shania Twain)