More About Code Reviews, Impostor Syndrome, and Growing from Code Reviews

Following on from my last post, I saw a co-worker gracefully apply the principles of sound code reviews. It was comforting to see someone else on the same path as me. I observed myself while reading his comments. I didn’t feel attacked or questioned. His tone was curious and thoughtful.

I’ve observed this week that seeing code reviews as a part of engineering work, equal in value to coding and delivery, is starting to influence me. My thinking used to be upon submitting pull requests:

This meets the requirements.
This is as elegant and succinct as I am aware.
This passes tests.

Then, I would feel ashamed when comments come in about did you consider this? Why did you choose that? My internal dialogue became, I should have known this.

But the truth is that I often don’t have the full picture in my head of the entire codebase, or more experience, or the unique insights of another engineer. I only know what I’m operating on right now… if I’m not growing.

It got me thinking about a recent newsletter by The Hybrid Hacker entitled Dealing with Impostor Syndrome in the Engineering World. It was a uncomfortable, unsettling read in that it hit home deeply. I put exceedingly high expectations and requirements on myself to have thought of everything before a code review. And that’s simply impossible.

However, I can start to learn what my coworkers pick up on and ask questions about. Mining that can make me more thoughtful and compel me to improve. Learn more. Explore more. Skill up.

My wish with my new role was that I would get to work with senior engineers, to really level up my game, to sharpen steel against steel. And that has been fulfilled. For that, I’m grateful!

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