This question came by way of Instagram and with respect to the person who DM’d me, they will remain anonymous. However, I will say that this person was one year into their freelance business.

So they admittedly hadn’t been doing it very long, but felt that most times they feel that they don’t know enough about business and development as they should.

Imposter Syndrome is real

I want to share with you a story.

It was Friday if my first week at a consultant firm and we had an all hands meeting at a global telecommunications company that we were being billed out to.

I was just hired as a senior developer in a team of 14 people. Our team and a few of them, making it about 20 people in the room sat around a large conference room table. We went around the room and talked about the things that we did during the week, what was up for the next week.

Since it was my very first week, I barely had my laptop setup properly. Not to mention, all through the week people would talk to me like I knew exactly what everything was; all the terminology, server environments and people.

During the entire week, I felt that 1. I was supposed to ramp up quickly to hit the ground running and 2. I was supposed to know a lot more than I did.

Oh, and did I mention, up until this job I was a Java developer and this position required me to know .NET. For those of you non-developers out there, that’s like having to drive a manual or stick shift car when all you’ve ever driven is automatic.

As each person rattled off their stuff and it got closer and closer to my turn, I got more anxious and just wanted to almost crawl slowly under the table in hopes that they would skip over me.

As the VP of Online Services got to me he said “Welcome to the team Jason. We are excited to join us. I’ve heard from Christina and Joe that you know your stuff. Totally get that you are a Java guy and have never touched .NET before, but that’s ok, we want your experience and knowledge. The syntax will come. Get yourself settled in and let’s chat next week.”

And he moved on to the next person.

How to deal with imposter syndrome

All that anxiety. All that worry. All that self-deprecation and thinking all week was for nothing.

Of course I had to learn .NET, but I wasn’t there for the .NET skills. I was bringing my experience and knowledge to the table. I was brought to this project because I was an expert that the project needed.

I would’ve never called myself an expert then, but I was. I had experience that no one else had. I had ability that no one had. I brought to the project an expertise that they couldn’t find elsewhere. That’s an expert.

When you start having those feelings of self-doubt, those classic imposter syndrome thoughts, remember that you were hired already for your expertise.

You are in the sales conversation because that lead wants to work with you.

You have knowledge that the other side of the table doesn’t.

You have ability that the other side of the table doesn’t.

You are the expert. Remember that!

Don’t let someone, especially yourself, step all over that and get in your way.

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