Advice for Incompetent junior here


Hi, I am new to chief Delphi and from the looks of it, chief Delphi seems to be where the serious conversations take place. I honestly just need advice on where to go after this. My dilemma is that, I haven’t really been enjoying robotics as much as I have been in the past. This is my third year and honestly its just getting to me where at the point it seems to be a pointing game with students, and where I just feel incompetent because even though this is my third year, I just feel incredible pressure to not mess up, and when I do it honestly just hurts. Overall I feel like I’m not doing this anymore because this is fun and to learn. Im just doing this to go through a process and I just feel incredibly incompetent overall since my freshmen year like, when I mess up, I just feel so much on me. Im not sure and my feelings are a bit jumbled.
TLDR; This is my third year I feel incredibly disheartened I dont feel like revealing myself in respect to privacy and I just feel so incompetent at everything overall, like everyone just thinks im a disappointing 3rd year who couldnt quite make it up to the mark.

Should I just leave FRC if it isnt getting fun for me anymore at all.
Thanks for hearing me out and sorry if this comes off as cringe


This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


I see a couple of items here.

  1. Please look up “Imposter Syndrome”. Consider this your diagnosis of same, until proven otherwise by competent authority. (And… I’m long out of FRC as a student and I still get that feeling on occasion.)
  2. If you aren’t enjoying it, then it may be time to take a break of a day or two or three… Maybe just go to an event as a spectator or volunteer without your team there. Sometimes you just need time away. This is my first time in my team’s shop since Monday. The time away can do wonders. Just trust me on that.


I totally understand and you’re not alone in these feelings. We all hit the slump. The burnout is real in FRC, especially this time of year. If you haven’t been enjoying robotics as much as you have in the past, a break might be in order.


I think, and this is opinion here, that you may be a little skewed in your perspective of approaching FRC. One of the major changes our team has made for this season is striving to achieve moving away from combative behaviors and the idea that learning and achievement comes only from success. Frankly, that’s not anywhere near the truth.

I can tell you that on a daily basis where I sit down to do a task, whether it be writing that line of code, driving down the road and following the law of the land, or even attempting to walk and chew gum, I will fail performing at least one of those things in mostly boring ways. Occasionally there’s something to really be proud to throw out just how stupid a thing I did that day. And even more occasionally I’ll capture it to video to share with the world. But the thing is, failure is OK. Failure is actually pretty awesome.

You see, failure is how we actually learn. From when we first enter this world until we leave it, struggles and failures teach us far more than any success ever can. So when it comes to my programming youths I tell them to try whatever they think will work. If they break the code, who cares? It didn’t work so keep trying. This was a MAJOR fear the previous 3 years that we were a team as no version control was in place and it always seemed like there was only one working copy of the code at any given time on just one golden computer. That changed this year using multiple approaches.

Don’t be afraid to mess up. And maybe it’s more a “team” issue that your mentors need to step in and address if you feel that much pressure. I’d try approaching your coach, at the very least, and lay out that you’re struggling and maybe you’ll find that your perception of being incompetent doesn’t really jive with the light that others see you in.


Definitely take a break, while the bag day is very close, even just taking a 1 or 2 day break could help. Also, talk to your coaches or mentors. On my team, if you feel very overwhelmed or you aren’t enjoying it, they find another area on the team you can work with, either short term or for the rest of the season. (ex. If you’re on build, switch to PR and work on a website, something that will distract you and make you feel less “incompetent”)


There is so much wrong with this post.

Part of being an effective team, in my opinion, is creating a space whether failure is acceptable, and understood to be part of the learning process.

OP, I’ve been doing this for about 10 years now and I still make mistakes and learn from them regularly. Heck, my third year in FRC I argued aggressively for literally cutting our robot in half and replacing the primary mechanism with a completely different one. At least you’re honest with youself enough to realize you have a lot to learn. I know third year me did not have that level of self-awareness.

It’s part of the process. Take a break, ideally talk with a trusted mentor or adult about how you’re feeling and the pressure you feel you’re under.


This is going to sound really cliche.

Actually, it is really cliche.

But you’re human, too (At least, I assume so :wink: ) You will make mistakes. And it’s not always your fault. Sometimes it’s because of lack of knowledge. Sometimes it’s because of miscommunication. Sometimes it’s because you ate some questionable food and your mind was elsewhere (I may or may not be speaking from personal experience).

And if your team expects you to be the pinnacle of human perfection (or maybe inhuman perfection, if you’re an alien :face_with_raised_eyebrow:), then you should talk to a mentor or a coach about it.

However, I bet you that you’re not incompetent. I don’t know enough about you to evaluate your skill, but I know from personal experience that it’s really easy to beat yourself up. Extremely easy compared to beating somebody else up, since you don’t fight back.

In any case, you’re not expected to be churning out industry-standard parts that are perfect to the millimeter. That’s what the end goal is (well, unless you’re on electrical, programming, business, scouting, or awards), but you still have years left to learn how to do that.

Besides, FIRST teams aren’t about perfection. If they were, they would be composed of mentors with decades of workforce experience at high-level tech jobs, not high-schoolers with weeks of workforce experience at Dairy Queen. It’s okay if the robot’s ‘okay.’ You don’t want to keep having mediocre robots, and ‘okay’ shouldn’t be your goal, but if you end up having an ‘okay’ robot, then don’t beat yourself up about it.

And to your last point, we’re all secretly cringey (cringy? cringe-y? cringie?!) at heart. Or maybe not secretly, in my case, as you can tell from every other sentence of this post.


What’s wrong with the post? Is it simply because I’m being honest, if you want I could sugar coat it for he kid and tell him it’s alright blah blah blah, but if you are continuously failing that is not okay, you will get fired if you continuously fail at your job, robotics is different you won’t get kicked off the team fortuently but robotics is a good way to figure out if your up for it in real life. That’s the reality’s of the situation


Thats a very cynical way to look at your (and their) problem, and not something thats going to help them at all. You dont need to sugarcoat, because that isint the solution.

OP, I think you’re burnt out along with some anxiety from the nature of how the competition works, and it happens. Eric’s, Cad’s, and Squirrel’s posts are really good. Take a break, even if its just for a day or two and clear your head. Stress is part of the competition, but if its way more stress than fun all you’re doing is creating a negative environment for yourself, and that really isint healthy.

For the long term, have you looked into the other parts of a FRC Team? Not everyone is meant to be 100% an engineer, or a programmer, or even ever touching the robot. 3 of the 4 years as a student i was either doing something business related or competition strategy. I never was good with tools, couldn’t give anything useful past basic designs, and my CADding skills were subpar, but i was still able to find a place on the team that i felt i was both useful and I could excel at. FIRST isin’t just about robots, and sometimes that’s lost on people (or never communicated to begin with.)


There’s a MASSIVE difference between FEELING like they’re failing and ACTUALLY failing. And if someone is not actually failing, just felt like it, then your post would be further reinforcement that they are a failure, whether they are or not. If you want honesty, your first post was out of line. “Get used to it” is not helpful to anybody, let alone someone who is struggling with their role and burnout. It may be what they need to hear but there’s a time, place, and manner to do it, and a stranger telling it that bluntly online… that would drive anybody out. Let me do the same with the post I’m responding to:

That may be what the OP needs to do, step away, but that’s a decision to be reached with guidance not a cudgel.


I weep for any students you might “mentor”


{Deleted comment to be nicer}

As mentors in this program we shouldn’t be vilifying or demeaning failure. We should be teaching people that failure is something that happens to everyone, especially the most successful people. How we learn from and respond to failure is what will shape our futures. To simply encourage someone you don’t even know to quit based on a moment of self doubt is both alarming and dangerous.


A student came onto this site for advice, ad hominem attacks aren’t going to help anybody.


You are not alone in your feelings. I’ve had many students come through my team who are great people, and who eventually need to leave because being on the team isn’t getting them where they need to go anymore. Taking a break for a while, or doing something entirely different, is absolutely valid and nothing to be ashamed of. For instance, our team captain and driver for 2016 decided halfway through the 2017 school year that she wanted to try theater instead of robotics. It was a great decision for her, and it helped her find new challenges and stay healthy. I do not begrudge any student their right to try other stuff, or take a break. You should know that it’s okay if that’s what you need to do, too.


So I’m hearing the most common statement being step away take a break. I don’t belive that is good advice at all. What exactly will that achieve. He will come back a few days later, the robot will be at a different stage and he got the day off while the other team members solved the problems/ issues that the robot was facing my interpretation of this put bluntly is take a few days off and let the otwhr kids fix the problem for you. That doesn’t seem like a great answer. The truth of the matter is suck it up, deal with it and get back to work plain and simple.


And I belive you took me out of context I never encouraged anyone to quite, Im simplying saying if your continuously failing over and over again somthing is clearly not clicking and this might not be the thing for you.


That was a typo but I’m sure that doesn’t change your feelings toward me in the slightest


The OP was asking about stress management and handling pressure in robotics; the solutions proposed are oriented around that. “Just dealing with it” does little to alleviate that stress, and clearly @questioning has already tried that to little success (otherwise we wouldn’t be seeing this post).

In any case, preventing burnout is important, and attempting to handle too many problems by yourself usually doesn’t end well. Although the immediate problems might be solved by other people, it’s also important to note that you will be better rested and prepared to handle future problems/issues that will arise.



To put it bluntly, humans CANNOT, repeat CANNOT, keep going without a break for very long at the same thing. To put it clue-by-four, you HAVE to take a day off from time to time or you will go bat-s**t insane! Some people just do not understand that concept, and suffer for it, and that drags everybody else down too. Yes the robot will be at a different stage. That’s why we have FRC TEAMS not FRC INDIVIDUALS. It helps to chase everybody out of the shop if they’re burning out–and to me, this is a case of burnout plus imposter syndrome. Pushing through it is 1000% not the correct answer. I’ve been told very specifically by my supervisor to take a break when I was at a similar stage. And it helped a LOT. One day out of the shop is possibly enough to do the job.

However. Some people either don’t need a day off, or more likely, think they don’t need a day off. And some of those people are in positions of authority where they project that sort of mentality onto their underlings. I’m not talking about you here; I’m thinking about someone else that I’m sure you’ve heard of. When you get that, you get not one, not two, not three, but just about everybody underneath in the position of burnout. That’s no way to run a team, or a company.

Something I made clear to the Torbot students after about Week 1 was that they needed to make sure to take some time away from the shop to worry about other stuff. We’ve seen very little burnout this year, after some very bad burnout in the past.