Revisiting Imposter Syndrome: Comparison is the thief of joy

Revisiting and reflecting on my past thoughts of overcoming imposter syndrome.

Ben Cheung
World of Cultivation
4 min readDec 30, 2021


Imposter syndrome, feeling inadequate, or feeling “behind” peers are all feelings that many individuals feel and experience. The feeling of being behind and needing to catch up, or the feeling of not being good enough. The terrible feeling of having to push and squeeze out as many hours as possible in order to achieve what your peers have achieved is all potentially related to the need to fill the feeling of inadequacy.

In 2020, I wrote some raw thoughts on tackling imposter syndrome. I discussed that we could use the feeling of inadequacy to fuel and motivate ourself to be our best self and be the source of self-driven improvement.

To feel inadequacies of massive checklists for self-improvement and self-development. Take such feelings and use it as motivation to add to what you do know.

I mention that we can use setbacks as goals in order to fuel our passion to learn and motivate ourselves to further explore. Struggling is part of the process.

However, I realized after further thought that simply using feelings of adequacy as checklist items or sources of motivation has a limit. There is a point where an individual feels exhausted. Tired to continue pushing. Reaching their limit on struggling. At this point, the imposter syndrome and feelings of inadequacy would actually relapse and hit even harder. While it is important to improve ourselves as individuals, we also need to take the time to ensure we do not burn out.

Burnout is real and I realized that the naive self that had written the earlier article was lacking another key factor when tackling imposter syndrome.

This key point is reflection.

Why reflection? What to reflect on?

Recognizing differences and setting goals from feelings of inadequacy is the first step of tackling imposter syndrome, however, I believe that a secondary step of reflection is also needed. Reflection and understanding that every individual is on their own timeline and the main character of their own story.

Everyone is the writer of their own story. Each new chapter of their journey is being written every day. It is important to recognize that other individuals’ success has countless numbers of hard work that is unseen by the general public. There is no such thing as being behind. Every individual is different, has different experiences, different opportunities, and ultimately different timelines.

Yes, sometimes we do envy our peers. Sometimes we feel inadequate and absolutely terrible about ourselves. Yet, our story is still being written.

We must take understand and reflect that everything has a purpose and is not a waste of time. Without previous experiences, you might not be the individual you are today.

For example, back then I decided to pursue biochemistry / med school and didn’t bother with going into cs. Now, I’m in CS hitting up my old CS friends. Some might view the 4 years of biochemistry undergrad as a waste of time and money. However, those were the experiences that have shaped who I am today. Without the 4 years of biochemistry, I wouldn’t be where I am studying now — a second degree in CS. I wouldn’t have met the numerous amazing individuals who support me every day. Naturally, the opportunities that I have seized in the past years wouldn’t have been seized as well.

As individuals overcoming these feelings of inadequacy, we need to remember who we are. We are the protagonist of our own stories. We are also the author.

Remember that you are unique. There is no one who is you except yourself.

Tell yourself.


For me, I am BEN CHEUNG. A biochemist turned software engineer. A passion-driven achiever, dreamer, and visionary of transforming ideas for a better tomorrow. I’m proud of where I am right now. I have 0 regrets. Every step of my life so far has been a building block and development milestone for constructing the Ben Cheung I am today.

When you feel down, when you feel bad, when you feel inadequate… remember that you forge your own future as the protagonist of your own story.

You got this. We got this. Definitely use feelings of inadequacy to set goals, but also use them to appreciate your story so far and remind yourself that you are on your own timeline. Comparison is the thief of joy.

Thanks for reading!