Tech, impostor syndrome, and ADHD


CC’ing from Hi everyone. I'm a software engineer with ADHD:

ADHD may also lead to thinking that people think you’re incompetent, so you work extra-long hours to save face.

quote source

If you can relate, just wanted to encourage … You don’t have to overwork due to this!

What are your experiences/thoughts regarding impostor syndrome?

First Serious Job!

I know it well, right down to the overcompensating bit. Which can be a good thing in some situations, albeit overwhelming and petrifying in others. Public speaking comes to mind. As an introvert, I’m not one to seek center stage but I’m good if I can talk about stuff that’s not me. Whatever insecurities I have about that, I beat with preparation. Probably too much of it but as long as it makes me feel confident that nobody will regret putting me up on that stage, I’ll consider it a win.

Same for writing articles. You can bet I’ll double-check every claim and won’t waste any print space on filler lines. I’m more lenient in my own blog, naturally, that’s why it’s a blog. But recently I started digesting some of the articles into an ebook - and I’m back to double-checking and compressing.

The thing is, outside of a very small circle, I’m not so well-known. It’s very unlikely that I’ll win over readers or audiences or publishers, for that matter, by merit of my name. So I’m very self-conscious about making the thing itself worthwhile. And very perplexed and cautious whenever I get away with my stuff.


Wow, thanks for mentioning the extra-over-prep regarding presentations. I get stuck in that trap.

I even get stuck in that trap just trying to figure out how to speak at the “senior/exec” level of abstraction, rehashing and revising a blurb/script of the meeting so I can stay on topic when it comes around. It’s one reason I don’t think I can climb the ladder into management (thankfully I don’t really want to, just wonder if I might have to due to ageism, later. But hopefully by then I’ve got more of a handle on it).


On another topic

Regarding writing and editing, I absolutely love this book, which my poetry professor assigned to us back in college.

Economical Writing

It’s a slim volume and it is fantastic. (And if not clear, while it was written for an Economics audience, it has general appeal and advice. Hence it being assigned in a poetry class.)

Possibly complimentary: there are some apps where you can disable editing while you write. I pretty much have to do this. I even write emails this way sometimes, then copy paste over into the client. Outside of apps there’s always pen (without eraser) and paper, and I find that to be a helpful part of my writing process too.



I never really thought about how editing while you’re writing can also be an ADHD thing, but it makes total sense. I do it all the time, mostly when I get stuck writing a line and my mind wanders up-page… That app wouldn’t be for me, though. I can’t spot an error and just let it stand! Must… correct…


I constantly struggle with writing blurb for excited/senior level. My boss always rewrites it before I send it out as she has a standing order to proof everything. (it’s to help as she is a former friend before becoming a boss is aware of my dyslexia and ADHD so I am grateful for the oversight most of the time.) :slight_smile:

I work as project manager in the software industry, but that’s more of a title. I collect info make sense of it help people with Agile and the software we use (I’ve always been a bit split between IT admin/training and project management.) Former bosses have always been impressed with the way I take data from a project and help analyse it, so for example working out velocity of a team or setting up easy to use documentarion practices to aid Comms across multiple timezones.

But afrer writing that I realise I do a lot but I am always worried I don’t do enough or focus on the right thing enough. I have burned myself out pretty bad before to over compensate. The one thing I have found is to be with the right boss and not be afraid to ask for feedback, good and bad. As I really need to know what I am doing right and what I need to improve, although I often already know what I need to improve what I can’t see is what I’m doing well. I’m lucky to have a boss that understands that. It has helped but i don’t think I’ll ever shake the feeling of I don’t belong here and they will find me out. :laughing:


That makes so much sense. I do this all the time as well. Even something as “simple” as writing a post or comment to something (such as here…). I will go back and rewrite, revise, redo, etc. It may take me a couple hours… on and off… because I keep going back and changing things… get distracted, come back, write, edit, revise some more… Then, after I’ve hit “post” I’ll find myself going back and continuing to fix typos, add clarification, fix issues and redundancies and things that don’t quite make sense/flow that result from all of my rewrite and edits…

And then, if I’m trying to sound professional for work… It may take me several hours before I hit “Send” on what some might consider a “simple”/“short” email…


Yeah, I’m equally appalled and relieved that Twitter doesn’t have a ‘correct’ function or I’d spend even more time there. I’m pretty good at spotting an error in the second between hitting ‘send’ and the actual sending.

BTW, anybody else here who used to spend an occasional hour or two trying to get a tweet below 140 characters?


Yes, I think I have everything just right and as soon as I hit send I see something that needs correcting… Imagine a slow-motion “noooooooooo” and reach for any anything that might be able to cancel it, but of course it’s already too late.


A coworker has nicknamed me Mavis Beacon for my rambling ways on Slack. I also get teased for how much I edit my messages to clarify on Slack. On the one hand it’s good because it means I don’t bite my tongue until I find the perfect wording… On the other hand I wish we could all just stop chatting for 1-2 hours a day, communicate effectively, and just shorten our days. C’est la vie … I need to find a way to reduce working hours …


I can totally Identify with this LizLansdown.

I’m in sales and was lucky enough to have a manager who went over all of my emails over and over again until I was able to produce extremely concise messages that got to the point quickly.

I think the ADHD brain looks at any given subject like some kind of a manic detective trying to solve a crime with 100 pieces of seemingly unrelated evidence all connected by little red strings. We want to communicate the importance of all those pieces and forget that the rest of the world wants, “Just the facts, Ma’am”


Oh my god you have put it into very sucscint words there. Exactly that! @Malapuptus

I often get lost in the thought of… well I only understand it because of all the little bits of information so therfore for anyone else to understand it they too must need all the bits of information and backstory and reasoning. I guess sometimes I feel like my mind runs at a mile a minute and people have a tough time understanding me so I then over explain how I got to said conclusion etc

For example see above! :laughing:


Yep. Slack is bad and good in equal measure. Just today I got lost in Excel. My acchilles heel, and worked I to the evening without realising the time at all…


Oh god. This is why the documentation I write at works always elicits comments like, “so where’s the actual procedure?”