The first time I walked into an artificial intelligence meetup, I felt like I shouldn’t have been there.
The second time I walked into a machine learning event, I felt like I shouldn’t have been there.
The 20th time I walked into an artificial intelligence meetup, I felt like I shouldn’t have been there. This was after working as a machine learning engineer for a year.
There was a difference though. A difference between the first time and the 20th time.
Aside from experience in the field, I’d had practice. I’d been to a number of events, I knew the feeling would be there and I got better at dealing with it. I used it as motivation. Motivation to improve myself.
I realised everyone else is probably feeling the same thing. I’d say to myself, we’re all here for a reason, we’re all here to learn, we’re all here because we’re interested in something similar.
The thing is, this process, the feeling of being an imposter, it doesn’t stop at events. It happens everywhere.
When I started writing articles online, I was scared to hit the publish button.
When I wrote a story about my life, I asked myself, who would want to read this?
When I walked into a government building to write code I’d learned how to do online, I felt like I shouldn’t have been there.
When I started making videos in my bedroom, the same thing. Who would want to watch this?
That’s who. I’d like to read this article. I’d like to see my code being used for good. I’d like to go to this event. I’d like to watch this video in 20-years as a reminder of where I started.
You might see imposter syndrome as a weakness. I used to. Not anymore. Now I see it as one of my greatest strengths.
Often, value comes from flipping a perceived weakness on it’s head and figuring out its opposite.
Imposter syndrome can be your greatest strength because it means you’re conscious of your ability. It means you’re aware you could improve. And because you’re aware of it, if you act on it in the right way, you will improve.
Imposter syndrome may never go away. But you will get better at dealing with it.
Instead of letting imposter syndrome hold me back. I use it to push me forward.
If I’ve taken on the responsibility to write code, it better run well.
If I’ve taken on the responsibility to publish articles, they better be worth reading.
If I’ve taken on the responsibility to make videos, they better be worth watching.
I tell myself.
You’re not an imposter, you’re you.
You should do the same.
PS there's a video version of this article on YouTube. It's got a few more examples and stories which you may relate to.