The first time I came across the term “Imposter Syndrome,” I was newly teaching my Expressive Self Portraiture class with The Define School. A fellow artist and student brought it to my attention. What was it? It didn’t sound good. I Googled the term, and right before my eyes was a description of my exact feelings.
Wikipedia says, “Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon remain convinced that they are frauds, and do not deserve all they have achieved. Individuals with impostorism incorrectly attribute their success to luck, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent than they perceive themselves to be.”
As time went on, I came to realize that Imposter Syndrome is quite common, if not prevalent in the Artist community. Unfortunately, many of us choose not to speak about it and expose ourselves as the “frauds” we believe we are.
I want to share my struggles openly with all of you. I know it’s in these relatable moments where I find reassurance that I am not alone. I hope you can find the same.
For years I would freeze up when someone would ask me what I do for a living. It was a process for me to say the words “I’m a photographer.” In all honesty, sometimes I would revert to my past years and take the easier route. “I’m a piano teacher.” Stating that I’m a photographer opened up space for more questions which would essentially lead to the fact that I’m a fraud.
As time went on, I graduated from photographer to artist. With that, the feelings came of “What gives me the right to call myself an artist?!” Throw in the fact that my art consisted mostly of self-portraits, and I really had a doozy on my hands when speaking to others.
Do you need to be making an income to title yourself as a photographer or artist?
Do you need to have clients, magazine spreads, or pictures hanging on gallery walls to be worthy?
Do you need wild success and acclamations to muster up the courage to call yourself an artist?
What you need is to create and create authentically from your heart. You need to trust in yourself and your abilities.
That whole fake it until you make it has never jived well with me. What’s wrong in admitting I have no idea of what I’m doing and I could use a little help? In doing that, you’ll weed out the people who aren’t YOUR people.
I’m here to tell you that I don’t have it all together. I have no idea what I’m doing. It took me countless hours to put together my first newsletter. I still have trouble sizing images for galleries and prints. I recently was asked to mat a photograph and had to ask my father for help after completely failing at it. I’m still trying to figure out Instagram Stories. While typing this, I checked my email and received another rejection letter. This list goes on and on.
But do you know what? I still keep moving forward, no matter how tiny the steps are.
Because I’m an Artist. And a teacher.
The next time you find yourself doubting you’re an artist, remember this. You are not alone. I’m willing to bet that even the best have a hidden case of Imposter Syndrome going on. The most courageous thing you can do in all of your self-doubts is to do it anyway.
Keep creating the work that calls to you. Support others in doing the same. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Make mistakes and then allow the time and space to learn from them.
As always, thank you all for your support!