"Google wouldn't want me"

"Google wouldn't want me"

I sit here feeling a wave of imposter syndrome crash into me - nausea and discomfort and sweat. It's like a fever, accompanied by trembling: "I am in the wrong place". 

In the next second, I feel the swell of inspiration and innovation tickle my nose. I want to be here - in this place - surrounded by innumerable smart and clever people. Their words, like ginger candy, soothing - helping me to forget my dis-ease one moment - and a next.

The panel of degreed individuals, many a Master and Doctor between them, speak eloquently in their mics "all are welcome, we are looking for a one like you". Their words, in direct competition with the soft whisper of an inner devil saying, "You have underachieved, you cannot belong". 

My face, in the sea of spectators, becomes a stage for emotional wrestle-mania: excitement vs. depression vs. intrigue vs. overwhelm. All of it silent drama, with an audience of one- among many audiences of one. 

"I can never measure up by comparison," I say. Is that even the right scale? I wonder. 

I look up from my musings, and the guy holding the mic on the stage replies "Come with the interest to learn. Start from there. That is enough."


I went to an event at Google today: Google Sandbox NYC. It was the first part of "a two-evening series designed to expose underrepresented groups of engineers to Google's technology, development, and engineering principles through tech talks, access to Google engineers, and hands-on workshops". 

It’s normal to feel that way. But, you should want that - to be surrounded by people smarter than you; and learn from them!
— John Wilkes, on the imposter syndrome

It was tremendously inspiring. The welcome was engaging. The lightning talks were enticing, and the panel discussion was enlightening.

At some point, I felt the nagging creep of Imposter Syndrome. Perhaps, it was when the panelists all mentioned graduate school and their various degrees, that I questioned my worthiness to be there. Or maybe, it was when some of the more hard science jargon popped up in the room, that I wondered if I should leave. Or possibly, it was when 2 questions mentioned the syndrome directly, that I felt that I was in over my head. Then, like a great booster shot of energy, John Wilkes, one of the lightning talk presenters, got up and said "It's normal to feel that way. But, you should want that - to be surrounded by people smarter than you, who inspire you; and want to learn from them! Focus on how you can improve." I needed to hear that. I am grateful for that.

I am not ____, but I can be!

Oftentimes, I feel like I am not _______ enough.

  • experienced
  • excellent
  • determined
  • disciplined
  • <insert positive adjective here>

I know I'm not alone in that feeling.  

At those times, when I need an IV drip of "I am enough" to revive my spirits, I must remember to shift our focus to "I am not ____, but I can be!" 

I shouldn't tell myself that Google wouldn't want me because:

  • I don't have a graduate degree
  • I don't have experience in deep systems and data thinking
  • I didn't eat, drink and sleep code every day of my post college career. 

Instead, Google (and any other tech organization for that matter) would want me because:

  • I am endlessly curious
  • I am interested in learning 
  • and, I find creative ways to solve problems

I'm a catch, yo! And if I'm not, I can be! :) 

I'm afraid...

I'm afraid...

Community matters.

Community matters.