T-SQL Tuesday Logo

This month’s T-SQL Tuesday is hosted by Jon Shaulis, who has asked that we talk about impostor syndrome. This subject is close to my heart, as I have dealt with it throughout my career.

I didn’t study computer science or engineering in college. I never even took a computer class. I sort of just fell into working as a web developer because I had someone tell me they wouldn’t hire me due to lack of experience.

Early in my career, I was a web developer, an MS Access developer, and a C#/WinForms Software Engineer, and I never knew what I was doing in any of those roles. For all of them, I used books, blogs, and Stack Overflow to learn what I needed, in order to complete some of my day to day tasks. I did whatever it took to get the job done, and learned everything I could in the process. Each day I hoped people wouldn’t realize I didn’t really know what I was doing.

Eventually, I found my niche. I loved working with databases and writing SQL. I worked as a Database Developer/DBA for quite a few years and then took a break from it, but always knew I’d go back. After a two year hiatus, I went back as the DBA at Stack Overflow.

Once I returned as a DBA, I struggled daily with impostor syndrome. Imagine, after a two year break from SQL Server, returning to work on the servers that run one of the most visited websites in the world. And on top of that, working with people who know far more about our servers and SQL than I ever did. I completely felt out of my element and struggled significantly with impostor syndrome.

To be honest, I still struggle with it. I work with incredibly smart people. Far smarter than I am. I suggest things that are shot down. I propose both good and bad ideas that are sometimes accepted, and sometimes not.

How do I deal with it?

I continue to suggest things that should be changed. They may be right or wrong, but I still do it. We discuss the pros and cons of the suggestions, and each time I learn from it.

Additionally, I’m trying to write more. I know there are things people can learn from me. I’m not the most confident in my writing (insert more impostor syndrome), but I’m working to overcome that by contributing more to the SQL community where I can. I fully expect I’ll make mistakes along the way, but that’s the only way I’ll be able to learn and get past my impostor syndrome.