Advice for Incompetent junior here


Was just thinking that myself. Wish the new CD had at least a dislike button.


I so definitely second @Ophbalance on this!
Making mistakes is the best way to learn in any endeavor. And don’t tell me a 3rd year FRC team member cannot make mistakes.
As I always like to apply to people I mentor: The first time you make a mistake, it’s called a learning experience… If you repeat the mistake after that, however, shame on you… You obviously have not learned…
If the team’s coach and mentors do not apply this mantra… shame on them, and perhaps you should look for another robotics league… there are many choices out there.
On the Imposter Syndrome issue, I think it’s a healthy reaction inasmuch as it is not taken to the point where it renders you incapable of performing in the group.


Well prior to the website update wich I do not like , the signature was shown in a better place. And although my fellow team members are well aware of my beliefs and many share the same sentiment as I do I am not the lead mentor and although I will fight really really hard for what I belive in its ultimetly not my call but honestly if anyone of the kids on the team approached me with a similar issue as the OP which they never have or will and not because they avoid me (@Akash_Rastogi) but rather we don’t face that issue I would simply tell them “ hey man I hear you but that’s life get use to it, isn’t the first and won’t be the last so suck it up and keep heading forward. There isn’t a kid on our team that would have a problem with this answer.


You definitely have, have had, or will have students who feel this way. Every team will. You may ignore it, or the students may know your view and simply never come to you for support in this area. You’re being dismissive when mentors are intended to be embracing and supportive of all.


Oh okay so you must know the six students on our team better then me?


I know one thing that leads to teams having only six students…

Also, by your own metrics dude, your team hasn’t had a successful season, in like, ever. Or at least since you joined. I didn’t go back further than 2011 on TBA since it would be an even greater waste of my time than it is to send this (final) response here. OP will be okay. You, maybe not so much.


Never claimed that. Every team, eventually, will have a student struggling with imposter syndrome. It isn’t a mentor’s job to pretend it’ll never happen, it is our job to prepare for it and be ready to help the students that might struggle in that way. I wont pretend to know your team or your methods, but I hope you take something away from this discussion. Best of luck this season. I know what it is like with a small team.


I would say right off, that by posting here, you’ve shown you’re not incompetent.
You are right to consider leaving FRC if it is no longer fun, or the culture of your team doesn’t work for you. But before you leave your team, consider all the good advice you’ve gotten here. Take a few days off and give your feelings time to un-jumble :slightly_smiling_face:. Find someone you can talk it over with… you can DM me if you like, but a considerate friend or mentor would be more productive.

Regarding being 3rd year and making mistakes… let me tell you about a student I know, that was still making mistakes in their 3rd year, and that’s ok. By the 4th year they were 25% wiser - due to the experience of learning from their mistakes. Ideally, you try to not make the same mistake twice… we all strive to do that, but we all fall short because we’re human.

And yes, there are times when you have to suck it up and just push through it, but that should be reserved for a task you don’t like, like taking out the trash, or unloading the trailer during really crappy weather, not for something that is as much a part of you life as FRC is.

I know you’ve done the right thing by reaching out here, and now you have lots of helpful options to consider. In the end, if you take some time, and follow through with the advice here, and you still wake up dreading being on the team… its ok to take even more time off, or even quit… life is too short to spend your time doing stuff that doesn’t lift you up.


Everyone has a bad day, month, year etc. It happens. Maybe take a break - one long enough for you to feel regenerated or fresh. I’ve been privileged to be part of high performing teams (industrial stuff, not FRC which I think of as a service and fun) that created incredible systems and machines. And I’ve really screwed up now and then. Again, it happens. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

Now for some advice I’ve given my own children and grandchildren - I’ll probably take some flack for this. You must shield yourself from peer pressure at your age. Your peers are 14-18 years old. To put it plainly , what the hell do they know? Why would you value the opinion of a peer (about you) over your own? Wisdom is the product of intelligence and time and no matter how intelligent or capable your peers they do not have time on their side (yet). Put your trust in your parents, grandparents and other adults with whom you have developed lengthy
mentoring relationships. Go to them for advice and counsel. Good luck!


Now is a really good time to toss your shovel.


You can counter that by upvoting everything except what you want to negative rep. :slight_smile:

I know that I felt burnt-out when I went every day to robotics back in the day. When I started going 2-3 days a week instead, I became more productive (i.e. got more done for the entire week) and I got more rest. Breaks and stepping back are definitely good.


I’m not surprised students have never gone to you for those kinds of problems.


Stay in FIRST if it benefits you mentally. Take a break or leave if it’s more negative than positive. You can always leave and come back when it is less stressful, e.g. off season or during competitions! Put yourself first, you do not need to sacrifice your mental health for others on your team to win.


I hated HS marching band and faked playing the instrument and left as a sophmore , I quit YMCA karate as a yellow belt, no worries my choices there have not caused any lifelong issues. When you become an adult consider volunteering ts a completely different perspective. Do activities you enjoy. You are not “incompetent” you feel pressure is all and that causes stress. Best way to aleviaite that is remove the pressure when you can before you have adult responsibilities.

Your #1 goal as a junior is finish HS (a life goal) and prepare for after,

Some people hate tech you dont force them into programming/engineering, the other side of that equation is an FRC team has many roles and there is nearly something for everyone so I highly recommend it. Looks great on a resume and shows “you did something”. Many people I talk to near my age wish we had this as a kid/teen as prevalent as it is now.


As a mentor, I hope my students will come to me and talk. This is the best program I have seen out there for high school students. It prepares them for the real world. You learn by mistakes and fixing problems on the fly, when necessary. You are given a foundation of understanding, strategies and networking that will help you in the years to come.


There are really two things going on in this thread. (1) A petty back-and-forth argument started by a series of irrational posts and (2) a real discussion about a real problem. As much as I want to engage with the first point, the horse has already been beaten pretty badly.

To answer the actual OP, I feel for you. This might not be your problem, but even if it is not, I hope this helps others. It took me until the middle-end of my second year in FRC to understand what I really wanted to do. At first, I had fun doing anything at robotics. Then, it turned in to me trying to complete tasks and feeling like I just couldn’t do them. Or there was so much nonsense to deal with that it wasn’t worth the effort. I love FRC, I really do. But I did not like building robots. It was suggested earlier in this thread to try something new. That is absolutely the best advice I could give.

Perhaps you feel incompetent because your peers are better at certain things than you. Perhaps you feel incompetent because you are actually good at something but haven’t improved as much as you would have hoped. Perhaps you feel incompetent because you are just going through the motions and not enjoying what you are doing. Or perhaps you feel incompetent because you are doing a thankless job.

Given the breadth of opportunities available within a FIRST team, hardly any students can be fully “incompetent.” Sure, everyone has their strengths. And some will excel much more than others. But given the fact that you even had the determination to make this post on Chief, it is clear that you are an individual that takes your responsibilities seriously and wants to do what is best for your own sanity while also helping your team and community. That shows competence.

Not being good a machining or programming or whatever else does not make you incompetent. Not knowing when to ask for help or not being willing to try something new is incompetent.

You have taken the right first step. You are competent. Keep it up.


I’m just guessing here but it seems to me that either you are a captain of a subgroup or the captain of the subgroup is relying on you to do a lot of the work.

The part I have a problem with is the finger pointing. It may start out in fun, but finger pointing can quickly turn into a hostile work environment. This is unacceptable and a mentor should put a stop to it. You should talk to your mentor. It should end.

If, however, the mentor is allowing the finger pointing or even participating in it, you need to talk to the head mentor.

You should read 148’s blog posts about failure. Even this season hasn’t gone as well as past seasons. Failing faster is learning faster, if there is an environment in place to learn from mistakes.

We have a mentor in the fab area that tells a great story of a student that was working in the shop, trying to get parts done that were needed yesterday. The student came to the mentor with tears in her eyes after she realized she made a mistake and that all four parts had to be scrapped. He asked her if it was a “rose” or a “thorn”. She said “thorn.” He said that it was a rose, and proceeded to tell her that learning from the mistake is more important than making a mistake. He then stood by as she made four new parts correctly.


Lots of advice in this thread. Here’s a different point:

Junior year of high school is typically the most stressful. There is a lot of information out there about this. Here’s just a few articles I found in a quick 1 minute Google search:

This is all VERY NORMAL, and the argument can be made that it will make you a stronger person in the future if you can find a way to push through it all. I subscribe to the theory of life that “This too will pass, and I will be a better human for it.”

That said, sometimes that ISN’T the answer. I played softball from age 5 all the way through my Junior year of high school. That was the year I realized, “I’m not going to do this in college. It’s more stress than fun. This is NOT benefiting me in anyway.” So I joined the robotics team my senior year. Finding another activity was the answer for me, and it’s now a huge part of my life (I even met my husband through FIRST.) Now I play softball in a casual adult league in the summer and it’s a great stress reliever…I didn’t give it up forever.

Don’t make any decisions hastily.
Take care of yourself.
Good luck during the rest of your Junior year.


You are correct Boltman - stopping an activity because you are not having fun does not mean that you cannot succeed later in life in other activities. Over my many decades of life, I have quit more things than I have continued, but that is because I have reached out to try new things and have only stuck with the ones that I enjoyed. I have been good at some things, competent at others, and very bad at others. FIRST is not for everyone.

questioning - Many others have offered the advice of taking a little time away - I think that is great advice. We all do that from time to time. It is called “vacation”, “personal time”, “me time” or any of the many other phrases that we use when we take a breather to clear our heads. Studies have repeatedly shown that time away can be hugely beneficial. Especially when there is a stressful situation.

Other posters have commented that it is OK for a 3rd year to make mistakes. It is not only OK, it is normal. Our seniors make mistakes. Our mentors make mistakes. My bet is that you are so much further ahead than when you were a freshman, but you may not recognize it because you are seeing what you do not know, and not all that you have learned along the way.


I know exactly how you feel and I am a junior as well. You aren’t alone in how you feel because in my team, at least 3 people feel like this including me. I can’t say I don’t feel like this anymore because I still do. However, what I did to at least mitigate this feeling is figure out why I kept feeling like this. I used to always beat up myself for every little mistake I made and felt like I should know everything, after all, I am an upperclassman.

But FRC is not about that, it’s about having fun and learning from your mistakes to make something better. I forgot that for awhile because of the new captains of my team. (There was a leadership change this year because the previous captain had graduate.) The new captains made me feel like crap for every mistake I made and acted as if I should know everything. They made me feel incompetent for the position I had in my team and I honestly was ready to quit the team, but I realized it’s okay if I don’t know everything.

You aren’t ever going to know everything because you constantly learn something new everyday. After I realized that my feelings of incompetence comes from the leadership of my captains, I learned to not beat myself up for it as much. I joined FRC to learn, to have fun, and build a robot not to mope away because of a few people who judge me for messing up on one anything.

I loved FRC last year, my life basically revolved around it. This year it took a dramatic shift so I’m currently taking a break. The break has really helped me because it made me realize I really do like FRC, it’s just the people in my team who makes me not like it sometimes. To make my long response short, is to find out why you are feeling like this and if it’s certain people try to avoid them and take a break. ( hope this helps :slight_smile: )