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Holy shit.

I thought this was just me. I spend a lot of time churning on this.

I'm a little shell-shocked at the revelation that others feel this way too. I wish I had something more compelling to contribute than catharsis, but... wow, thanks for (re-)submitting this.

I'm there too. I often measure myself against the fact that Einstein invented the theory of relativity in his early 20s. Meanwhile, I'm 30 now with a Masters degree in CS that I feel is worthless, writing what amounts to string concatenating programs all day at work.

The only thing that keeps me sane, really, is a combination of doing iphone development after hours and playing with arduino. It also helps that I have an amazing wife who is unrelenting in pointing out my accomplishments, however worthless I may think they are.

+1 on the recognition of having a supportive spouse - this is a huge factor in my motivation and lack of depression. I know what you mean about comparing yourself to someone accomplished. I keep this as a google document for when I need a reminder to keep going:

A list of Abraham Lincoln’s Failures:

- Lost job, 1832

- Defeated for legislature, 1832

- Failed in business, 1833

- Elected to legislature, 1834

- Sweetheart (Ann Rutledge) died, 1835

- Had nervous breakdown, 1836

- Defeated for Speaker, 1838

- Defeated for nomination for Congress, 1843

- Elected to Congress, 1846

- Lost renomination, 1848

- Rejected for Land Officer, 1849

- Defeated for Senate, 1854

- Defeated for nomination for Vice-President, 1856

- Again defeated for Senate, 1858

- Elected President, 1860

You forgot to add "killed". Probably the biggest, finalest "loser" moment anyone can face. :/

I wonder how well history would have judged him had he not been killed in office. Certainly some positive aspects, but we may have focused a bit more on his negatives (and he would have had more negatives in his life).

BTW, find and read "Lincoln the Unknown" if you can get your hands on it. VERY good read (imo).

Thanks for that book suggestion I'll look for it. I don't have his death on here, that's true. The list is more about overcoming adversity than chronicling all his failures - though you may be right that he would be seen more negatively if he had lived. Perhaps the circumstances of his death helped create the legend around him - a lemons out of lemonade sort of thing (admittedly those are some damn sour lemons however).

It's out of print, but try to find a copy at a used bookstore if you can.


I think America's collective view of JFK works the same. If he hadn't have died so young, what might we think of him now?

Labeling the death of his sweetheart as one of his failures seems a bit harsh.

I think Lincoln's case doesn't support the "good to have supportive spouse" idea but rather (1) persist, and (2) talent/genius wins out in the end, given the right context and times that let it manifest and become critical. Heck, even without much talent, persistance is helpful.

welcome to my world :-(

Me too, for what it is worth. At least three times this year half my brain was screaming "They're going to find out any second now!. Flee, flee!"

It all worked out.

"They're going to find out any second now!"

That's really it, isn't it? The whole thing just boils down to an odd, amorphous they capable of seeing straight through you if you happen to give them half a chance.

I wish I could understand the source of this better.

I like this feeling. It makes you try harder, just in case someone comes looking.

Yep, and that's why the person best capable of making you truly miserable is yourself.

Me three. I'm not as high-achieving as you guys, but I have an okay sheaf of academic qualifications (up to PhD) which to this day I'm absolutely convinced I don't deserve.

It's not rare at all among people I know, too, most of whom are way smarter than me.

3 times this year? It's 3 times a week for me.

If you want to read about more people who feel this way, it's usually called "Imposter syndrome" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imposter_syndrome).

I feel this way from time to time, I assume it comes from being self-taught and not always knowing what my peers know. Meditating helps, as does having a supportive SO.

I, too, am self-taught. I spend a decent amount of time in terror, imagining a sea of unknown-unknowns just waiting to ruin my projects or make me look the fool.

Try to let it be a source of motivation, rather than insomnia. And don't worry, after a few years, all that extra work trying to keep up with imaginary peers really adds up.

This is why I never contributed to open-source software. I guess it's just an irrational fear of failure at the bottom of it.

I'm self-taught too, your comment really resonated with me. I'm a contractor so I'm always having to try and figure out what "level" my peers are at. Once I start to get to know people though I start to realise that they usually have the same self-doubting attitude as I occasionally do.

It's not just self-taught people. Many professors, who have gone through the full range of degrees from bachelor's to master's to phd's, also suffer from this. (And grad students, who are proto-professors.)

Naw, I've been in this thing professionally since the early '90s and every single day I have to convince myself that I'm not a fraud. We're all frauds.

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