Sometimes, I see myself as a problem solver. Someone who can find a way out of any problem or technical hurdle, usually in clever and unique ways.
Other times, I see myself as a failure whose code has bugs and struggles with even simple things.
This past few weeks, I’ve been bashing my head against the same project. It’s a project that I thought was complete months ago, but I keep finding little bugs in it. Every time, I go in and solve a bug, only to introduce another bug, or discover another bug. Eventually I’ll get to a point where everything seems to be working, only for my client to show me a new bug that I’ve never even encountered before.
It gets worse when I think I’ve solved a bug because I’ve tested it against all the cases I know about, but then it later it manifests due to a completely different root cause. Again, it gets worse if I told my client that it was fixed - I thought it was - but it wasn’t. The specific case I’m referring to here is complicated because it isn’t really a bug, but I have to trying to mitigate the problem anyway (aka I’m receiving bad input).
When I have problems like this - where the same software just has bug after bug after bug - it makes me feel like I’m in the wrong career. Yes, I can solve these problems, but maybe I should have been able to avoid them in the first place, or detected them sooner.
It makes me feel like I’m not the person who should be planning to start new projects. We’ll just end up in the same situation again where we find problem after problem.
I know that this set of feelings is some combination of Dunning-Kruger in the good times, and Imposter Syndrome in the bad times. I’m not the only person whose software has bugs; they’re just more critical than usual for me because I can’t usually patch my products once shipped. And I can’t solve any problem, it’s just part of my self esteem to think that I can.