If you feel like an impostor, talk to someone more experienced, they might have a difficult puzzle you can solve that will increase your credibility. It’s the same in any field or discipline. I didn’t feel like an artist right away either, I had to draw the paper bags, paint the analogous color scheme, draw the bottles and cones and coffee mugs, and understand all the common patterns, criticisms and complaints.
Eventually I gained confidence. I can draw and paint in public and take criticism from jealous people, knowing I can keep painting because I know exactly what I’m doing, like how to fix a composition or adjust some color interaction. It didn’t happen immediately. It was work.
I’m not going to join a band and call myself a musician. Because I’m not a musician. I don’t practice music. And that’s OK because I’m good at other things. I can admire musicians, clap, appreciate the music they create, and drop a tip in the bucket without feeling jealous.
Speaking of other things, over the years I wrote a lot of poems. So I’m not that uncomfortable on stage reading a poem. It wasn’t a quick transformation. In high school I thought public speaking was horrifying. The thought of reading in public made me ill with a fever. I didn’t write one poem and call myself a poet. It was a long, crazy process.
What’s wrong with earning your credibility? It’s work. You do the work, you put in the time. Eventually you’ll feel like you know what you’re doing. My poetic mentor is still 10x better than me at certain things, and that’s OK. It’s not a competition. He told me I need to read more books. I read a lot more books, and indeed it helped me. Which is indirectly how I became interested in writing, and WordPress, and decided to improve my writing. I couldn’t snap my fingers and become a writer. It was a learning process.
One of my best blog posts, seen by millions of people, was written while my apartment was infested with fleas. Not fleas from pets. Racoons got into the walls. Racoon fleas. I was up all night writing that blog post with fleas biting my legs. It was so bad I had to squat on my desk chair to keep my legs off the floor. Then I had to drive through a hail storm to submit my assignment, after my Canon printer driver randomly stopped working. So my paper was 15 minutes late. The professor gave me a zero and told everyone I was going to fail the class.
To say the least, this professor was unpopular. His class was notoriously difficult and required to graduate. He made us buy cotton paper. I didn’t even know cotton paper existed. If you made any grammar error, it was an automatic “F” grade. I sweat blood over every comma. The last day of class it was revealed I got the highest grade. I was shocked. I really thought I was going to fail the class. It was an unexpected climax. The professor said I was the only student ready to be a professional writer. And I was sitting next to the editor of the San Antonio Express! Every flea bite, every hail stone, it was worth the effort.
I’m not the best writer, but I know for sure I am a writer. And I can paint a portrait. I can write a poem and read it to strangers. I can write a software application from scratch. Because I paid my dues, read the manual, found the missing semicolons, coded the functions, and now I’m a software development instructor that can teach developers to feel like developers. Not imposters.
If you’re not comfortable calling yourself a developer yet, or an artist, or a poet, then don’t rush it. An imposter would rush it. If you work on your craft, slowly but surely you will gain some confidence. You don’t need to be the best at something in order to be the person you want to be. In contrast, let’s say you’re not feeling it, at all. That’s OK too. Maybe your time is better spent doing something else.
PS: That’s not a real quiz, it’s just a meme I found ;-)