The Intimidation syndrome

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Thousands of articles have been written on Impostor Syndrome. How to overcome it. How to avoid it. But it will keep lingering because new people get into tech every day.

Now, there's another "syndrome" which is comparable to Impostor Syndrome. It's Intimidation. It may be seen as part of Impostor Syndrome. It occurs when a 'senior' devs does stuff like

  1. answer a difficult question on a forum/channel filled with juniors
  2. write a blog post about a complex concept, etc.

N.B: Senior here is relative. Someone with 9 months experience may be viewed as a senior by someone just starting out.

Some newbies and juniors get intimidated by seniors who do those things. Some grow to hate that senior if the senior isn't humble enough. A short term effect is complaining. It may also force the junior to say "what am I doing with my life?". I haven't seen the long term effects. Juniors can definitely see the bright side of it.

A personal experience

90% of the time, I prevent myself from building cool, functional projects due to

  1. laziness
  2. learning technologies I don't need to learn

When I see the functional and amazing project a senior built, I:

  1. get motivated,
  2. quit slacking and
  3. get building

I channel the intimidation to my personal growth. Juniors can use intimidation to prevent slacking off and foolish learning.

Wrong approach to intimidation

A wrong approach is to take intimidation to heart and always feel inadequate. Here are a few displays of the wrong approach

  • This dude keeps doing cool stuff
  • I can't even copy the stuff this dude builds, everyone would know I stole it
  • This guy has come again with his blog post on ...
  • Not this guy again, always intimidating everyone
  • Why am I always seeing this guy on every dev site?

Taking this approach is self-defeating. It's best to understand

  1. that experience matters
  2. only by pushing yourself would you reach attain the title, 'senior developer'

Also, note that all seniors were juniors sometime in the past. A few still feel intimidated. It goes all the way up. But it doesn't have a stronghold on them. If you're satisfied with your level, intimidation won't be a problem. You shouldn't stop at the basics if you want to be a senior someday. Aim to be better. Draw anger and inspiration from your intimidators and level up. The world hates mediocrity. Don't be the mediocre dev.

So, my dear reader, never take the wrong approach to intimidation. Instead, ask your seniors, heroes or intimidators how they do what they do. No one hires the mediocre dev. You have to stop slacking and being intimidated.

Push yourself to be better every day. We all can't have equal knowledge, but we can help each other, so long we aren't intimidated by each other.

Comments (2)

Scott Mattan's photo

This is an interesting subject, and while I won't claim to be an expert on this.. In the relative scheme of things, I feel my solution may be a bit selfish to a point, but people who feel Intimidated by the mentioned points should practice apathy in a sense. What I mean by this is should be defined in the following:

  • Why should anyone care about you copying and using X certain amount of code posted to the internet (provided licensing is not an issue)
  • It doesn't matter who posted X content on the internet, care about the content, not the people. (specifically whether you can use it, and how)

The only reason I can think of to feel intimidation by another person's content online is when you are trying to create a article/blog post about a particular technology and someone else has already made a better post about the same technology. Even then it should just be a motivator to expand upon their article, you could even link/credit theirs in yours and shortcut to the +α.

If you do not know how to utilize a technology described in a particular article, you can always ask the writer. I feel that this syndrome is much easier to deal with than Imposter syndrome.

That being said, let me know your thoughts to my comment.

Osinachi Chukwujama 's photo

Since Intimidation and Impostor Syndrome can exist simultaneously, someone may feel like a fraud for not being able to do something 'basic'. Though it shouldn't be.

Another thing is that if someone keeps copying code and never write theirs, the person may never learn how to write clean, functional code.

About technical content already written by another person. It's frustrating to spend days writing about something just to discover someone else has written a better version. But like I said previously, one can either draw motivation or just get depressed.

Another thing. It's easier to google your problems than ask someone on Twitter. That's why some people don't ask writers questions.