I think I just got lucky

Nilesh Mahajan
2 min readNov 10, 2021

6 years back, I decided to change my job. I got an opportunity at Uber. Uber was probably at the peak of its startup hype when I joined. There was an air of tremendous confidence in the company. Hiring more engineers was a top priority. The leadership kept saying that we want to hire top talent, similar to Google/Facebook etc or coming from top schools.

But I had never worked at such top companies. I didn’t study in a top school either. So slowly, it got in my head that — “I think I just got lucky”. Maybe, there was an interview mess up and they asked me easier questions. And now, I am not fit for this job. Over time, this feeling made me extremely under-confident and nervous even while doing trivial tasks. Each day became a struggle. One day, my hand started shaking while typing on the keyboard and I almost broke down.

Back then, I didn’t know what I was going through. So I started reading a lot on google to understand what’s wrong with me. Later I learnt that this phenomenon is called — “imposter syndrome”.

A feeling that you are successful because you got lucky. You are some kind of fraud and the world will soon figure it out.

Unfortunately, this fear of “world will figure out” actually prevents you from talking with colleagues or friends about this. Then I saw this TED video- “Fake it till you make it” by Amy Cuddy. I decided to try to fake being a good engineer until I become one. It wasn’t easy, but I had no other choice.

6 years have passed. Looking back at my time at Uber, I did well. I got promoted a couple times. Interestingly, some of most of my top performing peers also came from no name companies and schools.

Whenever you are upto doing something new, something ambitious, your mind is going to tell you that you are not ready. And it is somewhat true. But reality is no one else is ready either.

If you only do things that you are ready to do in your career, you will end up doing nothing — @david_perell

So if you experience this feeling, remember that it is completely normal. Don’t quit. Just fake it till you make it.

Originally published at https://nileshm.com.