Reflecting on “Apprenticeship Patterns” – Be the Worst

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I have a bad case of impostor syndrome and oftentimes get discouraged when comparing myself and my work to more experienced developers. This week’s apprenticeship pattern helped me understand that being farther behind on a stronger development team with intent to catch up (a small fish in a big pond) can be more beneficial than being more of an outgrown member of a team that doesn’t challenge me as much (a big fish in a small pond).

“Be the Worst” describes the problem of plateauing in new knowledge, as the apprentice continues to work in a team that doesn’t push them to challenge themselves. As a result, the apprentice may start to grow out of the team. The solution is simply for the apprentice to look for opportunities in stronger teams. By establishing themselves in such a group, the apprentice should be more motivated to work harder to catch up to the level of their teammates. While this poses a risk of potentially falling even farther behind, it has the immense reward of learning more, at a faster rate.

This section definitely reassured me that even if I am farther behind than my team members, it just means that I have more room to improve, as long as my teammates are supportive of my growth, in spite of me not being as strong of a team member (yet). I’m sure that initially, I will have difficulty removing the feelings of intimidation of working in a more challenging group. One of the additional risks of joining this kind of group is the possibility of feeling incapable or under-performing. However, as the section explains, I would be able to recognize how much I have truly advanced in skill when self-assessing.

This section also changed my thinking regarding comparing myself to other developers. With my current mindset of impostor syndrome, it may not be best for me to compare to those who are more experienced than me. But, as my attitude towards my own skill improves, it’s not a bad thing to look up to those people as an example of what I can also achieve. By seeking out more challenging opportunities, this comparison to other developers is also necessary.

Thanks for reading!

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