Failure and Insecurity

The Time I Almost Quit Being A Developer.

“You fucked up.”

They were the only three words I could think about after putting down my phone, ending the call with my Google interviewer. I slumped into my seat, digesting what had happened. It was my second semester senior year, and I had bombed my first technical interview. The question was so easy. Why did I stumble on a simple for loop? As I let myself muse, dread and anxiety started seeping in. I curled up into a ball, desperately trying to muffle uncontrollable sobs and hiccups.

Am I even cut out to be a software engineer?

I argued to myself that I wasn’t adept at coming up with algorithms in the matter of minutes. I couldn’t handle the stress of technical interviews. I would probably have better luck applying for positions as a designer. My confidence in my technical abilities was at an all time low, but, it wasn’t just a failed interview that had caused me to break down.

My mom and dad were factors. They wondered if I could catch up with “the boys” in my CS classes.

My mentor during my summer internship was a factor. He commented that front-end development was boring, simple, and unimportant, the entire time I was working on a front-end project.

My coworkers during my summer internship were factors. They joked about how I wasn’t a productive contributor to the team.

I was a factor. I believed everything that I was told.

I was terrified to code in front of other people, and hid under tables during hackathons just to avoid any potential critiques from my teammates.

I didn’t want to speak up against the baseless jabs that were completely untrue about my work during the internship, just because I didn’t want to be “the girl who couldn’t take a joke”.

I felt lonely, confused, and completely inadequate.

That interview was the straw that almost broke my will to press on, to push back against all odds, and to remind myself that I had the ability to succeed.

What I desired the most at that time was to give up, but part of me wouldn’t let go. I didn’t want to be the girl who couldn’t handle it, a contributor to the unfortunate statistic about the engineering pipeline.

I stayed in limbo, floating in a pool of self-loathing until one of my friends pulled me out. He told me that he believed in my abilities.

And that if I were to decide not to become a software engineer, it was because being a designer made me happier, not because I wasn’t technically capable enough.

The pep talk didn’t completely bring me out of my slump, but it was enough to prevent me from canceling the next interview I had coming in less than an hour.

I gave it another shot.

If not for myself, but for those who believed in me.

For those of you who struggle with technical interviews, imposter syndrome, and personal insecurities about your own technical capabilities, I can’t tell you that it will all be okay in the end, because I don’t know that.

What I can tell you is that you are not alone.