Overcoming Jealousy and Imposter Syndrome

As a senior in college, my peers are focusing on finding a job or applying to graduate school. Throughout this year, I’ve seen my friends post their graduate school acceptances or post about committing to a job offer. While, it’s great for them, I’ve found it hard to keep my head up and stay motivated. But I’ve started to reframe their successes as motivation. I’ve gotten into the mindset of, “If they can do it, I can also work hard and achieve it too.”

One way to deal with these feelings is to acknowledge that you’re bound to have them. Andrea Bonior said in a Psychology Today article that these feelings are normal. They often come up when you feel you’re missing something. It may lead you to examine what you need to change about yourself. I realized that I’m falling behind in various aspects of the job searching process. I feel very ill prepared for interviews, but I’ve been getting better as I do more of them. In  my case, it is an expectation in computer science to do personal coding projects in your own time and have them publicly available in GitHub, an online portfolio with all your code. Another preparation point I started late was practicing coding interview questions from sites like LeetCode. It’s a shock feeling behind everyone else. But the truth is, you’re not the only one who feels ill prepared. No one is perfect–even though it can feel like it scrolling through my LinkedIn feed.

It can seem like everyone else knows so much. Not everyone knows or should be an expert in every programming language out there. Technology is a very dynamic field and things are changing rapidly. I just have to continue strengthening and practicing the concepts that I know. I’ve fallen victim to impostor syndrome throughout school and my internships. As a woman in computer science, it is especially easy to feel like a fake when you’re surrounded by predominantly male classes and workplaces. I just have to keep telling myself that I am just as capable if I put in the time and dedication.

One thing that keeps me going is the potential that my first job won’t be at my dream company, and that’s okay. With a full-time course load, I find it very hard to make coding time in my spare time. My plan for now is to get any software engineering position that I can and work on strengthening my coding skills in my personal time after work.

I also sometimes experience doubt about the area I chose to study. As someone who loves creating art, I wonder whether I’m doing the right thing in school. Would I thrive more if I chose a different path? Be happier and have less self-doubt? From the outside, it looks fun to create art. But then again, I don’t know how that path would really be.

Knowing and acknowledging jealous and envious feelings was a great first step for me and channeling them as inspiration is even better. With this, I feel like I can survive the rest of senior year. If you are in a similar situation, do acknowledge that while your friend shared their success, they probably didn’t share the hard work it took to get there. Know that good things take time and hard work, but it’s also important to keep in mind not to put yourself under a lot of pressure. Things happens differently for every person. It doesn’t make you any lesser.