The impostor syndrome

One day I dreamed that I was in a large office room filled with programmers, and I had to test something. Everyone is counting on me, and I don’t know how to do it I have no idea how to go about it.

I could relate this dream to the feeling that often accompanies me in my professional work, recruitment, browsing the feed on LinkedIn – I am an impostor.
I cheat that I have skills that I don’t have. Other people are more competent than me, experienced, have more knowledge, can do things that I can’t, I was hired unnecessarily in the position that I currently hold.
What is more, I have not graduated from the polytechnic, I can not program in Java, and I am not a cybersecurity expert. I am an “ordinary” software tester.

Extraordinary treatment

Ola Kunysz wrote on her blog that:

Special treatment builds the image of a weak woman in need of care. All the girls I worked with in IT were great specialists. Perhaps, because they had to “prove” theirs to get to where they are.

I think this is only part of the problem, because if one of us is already proving to others that he can do something, it means that she/he has won (or is still fighting) a fight in her/his head – with her/himself, with her/his prejudices and with her/his impostor syndrome.

The impostor syndrome

The impostor syndrome – a psychological phenomenon, that causes a lack of self-confidence. Despite external evidence of their competence, those suffering from this syndrome remain convinced that they are scammers and do not deserve the success they have achieved. They see the causes of success in happiness, favorable circumstances, or as a result of being perceived as more intelligent and competent than in reality.


In Poland, I live in a patriarchal society where girls are taught from an early age to be meek, polite, and submissive. They should not raise their voices. They should not say themselves without being asked. They should not lean out, but perform their duties as best they can, leaving room for men to think creatively, decide, and set the rules of the game.

Anywhere else in the world, a similar approach to the role of women in society is additionally combined with prejudices regarding skin color, origin, religion, or sexual orientation.

Many large corporations assure that they care about balancing opportunities, diversity, and openness. It is visible in press releases and colored logos on LinkedIn, but does not always move down the organizational structure and does not either affects the work culture and the way employees communicate.

It often happens that I feel out of place. I feel like a cheat because others support this destructive feeling in me.

I do not mean that women have to be given special privileges.
My observation is that when I join a project – I – Kinga Witko – usually I’m the only woman in this project. A single woman – vs 3,4,10 men on the project team. There rarely are two of us. In my opinion, this fact alone gives rise to the feeling “I’m out of place”, “I shouldn’t be here”, “I’m cheating – they are more competent”. And no matter how hard I try to chase away such thoughts – they exist.

Why this post?

If you think that only you feel it – then know that I have the same (or at least similar), perhaps, many people in our environment feel similar emotions in the professional environment.

I don’t know if this is normal, but don’t feel lonely.

That’s it.

Published by Kinga Witko

Author, Blogger, QA specialist, Agile Tester, cruelty-free. Sugar - free food lover.

5 thoughts on “The impostor syndrome

  1. Thanks for your vulnerability and thanks for sharing..This is absolutely something I have also experienced as the sole female and tester on a large team, and more increasingly as I’ve grown in my career. You hit it right on the head with “I am an “ordinary” software tester.”

    To add to your article, I wanted to share the next step in The best advice I had been given is from a book, Get Out Of your Head by Janice Allen. Although her book is faith-based writing, it is helpful in encouraging you to take every thought captive because imposter syndrome is such a toxic thought process that we subscribe to daily. In these cases, we need to identify the lie that we are believing and replace it with a truth…That’s how you we are able to begin to break free from this thought process. It has truly helped me, but of course it is a process.


  2. Maybe it’s time to change env. In my Poland, we rise wise and self-dependent girls which are growing into great women. Repeatedly talking about patriarchal and don’t change ppl around you wouldn’t be anything good.


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