In Productivity By Ziemek February 24, 2017 Ziemek

Am I a real developer?

You might be questioning yourself, “What if everyone finds out, I’m not a real developer?”

Before we go down this rabbit hole, let's take a deep breath. Relax the shoulders and remember that we are all human. Soften your gaze and look at things from a fresh perspective.

First, if you are developing software, you are a developer! The truth is that all developers go through imposter syndrome. We all have felt that we are not smart enough, don't have sufficient skills or knowledge to get through a challenging problem. I’ve had this happen to me many times. You are not alone.

Second, we are all learning. We are all trying to get better at our craft. As David Heinemeier Hansson points out in his interview with Tim Ferriss, the sooner you get over your ego of admitting that you don’t know something, the faster you can learn.

Lastly, go with your gut. If you feel that you don’t understand something, it’s likely that you might not. Use this as a learning opportunity. I know that imposing deadline seems close, but in a couple of months, no one will remember it.

Here are three ways of learning about something that you might have little knowledge of:

Try playing around with the part of the language or framework that you have trouble understanding. Playing with the problem in a simple manner can open up new ideas or thoughts you didn’t have before. This might mean using the console or just making a quick tiny class or program to test your assumptions and solidify your understanding.

Googling for the problem can also lead to further understanding by way of proper terminology, some other concept that might be related or the ability to ask better questions. Sometimes it can also lead to an answer.

Finally, ask a developer on your team for help, this can be the quickest way to gain an understanding of a challenging part of the software. Reach out, and they will likely be understanding and helpful. It is important to not overuse this relationship but build on it. Asking for guidance is key, but asking for every single solution may become a burden. So ask for direction and do the work to come up with a solution.

Gaining knowledge about a framework or language, outside of working hours, will be a less stressful way of learning. Stress narrows your vision and restricts creative thinking. Using an hour outside of work for learning might save you three while working on the job.

In the end, it is important to take the time and learn what you are missing. Avoiding it will just lead to more problems and confusion.

Try playing with code and test assumptions to further deepen your understanding of the framework, code base, and language. It will make you a stronger and more experienced developer. Then you can teach others who are also having trouble with the same thing, which is likely a confusing part!

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