Lately I realized I have been experiencing Imposter Syndrome. Then I realized that this is nothing new because I have been living with Imposter Syndrome for years now. If you wondering what the heck I’m talking out, here’s a little TLDR;
“Impostor Syndrome is a pervasive feeling of self-doubt, insecurity, or fraudulence despite often overwhelming evidence to the contrary.” (Scientific American)
I dabble in various art forms: painting, photography, styling, and drawing. While some have fallen off throughout the years, others have recently flourished. From an early age I drew consistently like clockwork, I never took lessons but I was always considered a great artist, but I never really believed that I was. I just thought I was a good artist because other people were validating me and telling me. For a few years now I haven’t really painted and there’s several factors for that:
- I felt I was not growing as an artist
- I doubted myself when others weren’t validating me
- I wasn’t impressing myself with my artwork/living up to a standard
Nowadays photography, styling, writing, and fiber arts are the art forms I frequently turn to. Whereas fiber arts are more of a hobby while #WIP, photography, writing, and styling are my forms creative expression. For me the creative process involves two things: the alchemy of an idea (visualizing and coming up with a theme, a story, a concept) and then the execution (preparing, props, styling, timing). From there it delves into the editing and fine tuning process, which is fun and experimental, too.
It’s been hard to call myself a creative, which comes from a lack of confidence and assertiveness. I believed that my talent and my creative side hustle successes were just strokes of luck or I was producing what others wanted so I kept doing the same theme, but not really growing out of a fear that I would disrupt my “luck” – as if I was following a ritual of superstition. I knew I was creating art, but I did not see myself as an artist; I just felt like I was masquerading by as one.
Creatives should not feel like they need to be “knighted” into creative-dom, or have some certification/external authorization (i.e.: a form of validation) to begin a creative journey. Dreaming and creating are free forms of expressions at our fingertips, waiting to be utilized. While creative blocks are common, conscious avoidance of an activity you love is not.
For me drawing and painting were two passions avoided because I either felt I wasn’t worthy or good enough, so why bother? It’s painful to admit this to myself because I know I am a creative person, I am driven to create and experience joy when I am not doubting or hindering my growth. Ultimately my person goal is to overcome Imposter Syndrome and quit doubting my potential.
Here are some ways I am overcoming Imposter Syndrome from my life:
If you have a positive and encouraging support system, great! But if you don’t, as was my case in my post high school/university days, that’s okay. You don’t need others to believe in you or create a false sense of self doubt. You can counter a lack of support system by choosing to grow (remember growth can hurt but it’s worth it) and pursue what you want to do be it creatively or otherwise. Cultivate that fire inside and create what makes you happy.
Take enjoyment in your successes no matter how big or small. Pat yourself on the back for reaching a goal and return to the muse or process of creation or work. Avoid comparing your work or success to others in terms of achievement or success. Appreciate your successes, appreciate their success, move on because let’s keep it real (for perfectionists such as myself…), life is not a competition.
Accept mistakes as lessons. Maybe my drawing or painting did not come out the way I wanted it to, or a photo shoot didn’t yield the results I wanted or the images didn’t come out as crisp – it’s okay. If you need to ruminate for a little bit, process it, and then from an observer’s perspective look at what didn’t work and
Make peace, nor war with your inner critic. When you are experiencing Imposter Syndrome it’s easy to let your inner critic speak the loudest and take control. Reframe the situation and give your inner critic some self compassion, and counter self doubt with a reminder that perfectionism is not the goal, expression is. Develop the confidence in recognizing that your successes are valid and your creative pursuits are worthy.
Imposter Syndrome is far more nuanced and personal than this article, my journey with Imposter Syndrome may not reflect yours or sound similar, but if you doubt your creative self and projects, if you feel like a fraud or self doubt I encourage you to explore and work through your Imposter Syndrome.