Side Project Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome is prevalent in every industry, not least the web world. Many people who I respect and admire greatly have blogged about their own feelings of not belonging or not deserving of their place.

I have been fortunate enough to not have experienced imposter syndrome that much in my professional career. I appreciate my privilege has no doubt played a huge role in that, but I've kept my head down and felt like I've worked hard to get where I am today.

More recently, however, I have experienced imposter syndrome more and more in a working day, especially since working my way up to director level. Having meetings with clients and trying to appear as this well-travelled, experienced and seasoned professional really kicks you in the feels when you know you're any of those things.

Getting the feeling of imposter syndrome at work is no surprise, as you are being paid to have "knowledge" and if you feel like you don't have that knowledge then you feel like a fake.

What I don't get though, is why I experience impostor syndrome with my side & personal projects. It was a recent topic of conversation that came up on on a podcast I was recording and, since then, I've not been able to stop thinking about it.

I find it hard to self-promote and, even when I do, I don't have a lot of confidence in what I've written; and it shows. So far, in 2021, I've managed to publish a blog post every other week. Despite this, I've only tweeted links to my personal site twice this year. This isn't me forgetting, I just don't trust the words I've published - especially when it comes to technical posts. It's not just blog posts I write either, I have written several posts for work and even written a book on Vue. I've been a "professional" developer (well, I've been paid to develop websites) for 12 years - but I still don't believe in my abilities. Even as I'm writing this, I'm questioning about whether I should even post it.

Throughout February and March, I recorded 6 episodes of a podcast series Make Life Work - On The Side Takeover. I didn't blog about it, I didn't tweet about it, I didn't even tell my family. Every week that podcast went out I felt like a fraud - who am I to have the authority to speak on a podcast?

When a project completes at work, you get the reassuring emails from clients, the congratulations from co-workers and the potential new biz won off the back of it. With personal projects, though, there is no validation that what you are doing is good or even correct. But then, every now and then, a little trickle of praise comes in. Be it a tweet or someone buying me a coffee. They are rare but they are reminders that people read (and learn from) things I write.

So please excuse me if my posts feel guarded, if they seem simplistic or they're not "pushing the boundaries". Despite blogging for 11 years I still have trust issues with my words.

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Mike Street

Written by Mike Street

Mike is a CTO and Lead Developer from Brighton, UK. He spends his time writing, cycling and coding. You can find Mike on Mastodon.