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Re: Fighting Impostor Syndrome

On Fri, Aug 16, 2013 at 10:55:47AM +0200, Margarita Manterola wrote [edited]:
> One of the things that came up during the DebConf talk on Women in
> Debian is that a lot of women (and men as well) are affected by
> impostor syndrome.  This is when you feel that you are not good enough
> to "be here" (wherever here is, Debian, FOSS, your job, etc).
> I've personally been affected by this many times, I was affected by it
> when I started contributing to Debian, when I gave my first talk in my
> local LUG, when I gave my first talk at DebConf, and even recently
> when I started my work at Google.

I've had similar experiences.

> I think that it's important to
> recognize when we are affected by it, to try to fight it as much as
> possible, but it's also necessary for us to help each other and
> particularly help new comers in getting over it.

I've found that talking with peers about one's feelings of impostor syndrome
can help a lot -- and even more so, of course, when your peers acknowledge such
feelings as normal.

> One thing that was suggested during the talk is to list the amount of
> knowledge that someone needs in order to do a certain activity (like
> packaging, or translating, or fixing bugs, or triaging bugs, etc) and
> then have pointers to more info about those tasks.  I don't know how
> much difference this could make, but I don't see any damage in trying
> it and seeing if it helps someone realize their worthiness.

For sure it helps to know what expectations one is evaluated against. It's
kind of difficult to describe expectations for a volunteer role, where the
degree of involvement among people varies dramatically, but it's certainly

Every great idea is worthless without someone to do the work. --Neil Williams

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