Creative Artists: Are You Really Good Enough at What You Do?
We're here at Day 6 of the Alex Beadon Feel Good Blogging Challenge, and today's topic is vulnerability. I wanted to discuss something that a lot of artists can experience in their journey called "impostor syndrome."
Ever feel like a phony? Like you're being given way too much credit for your work? Ever question if you're "good enough" Yep! That's the feeling. I too suffer from this nasty little bug. Especially when it comes to titles.
Barely do I label myself or my work as "professional." I often use safe words like graphic design or photography "hobbyist", or "enthusiast." After all, who am I to call myself a professional? I don't have a degree in photography, nor graphic design. I don't have any awards. Heck, I have a video production degree and I don't call myself a professional there either. I just state, "I happen to have a degree in video production." Even worse, when I receive good reviews for my work, I breath a sigh of relief and feel like I dodged another bullet, rather than being confident in the work I produce.
Austin Kleon also touches on the subject in his book, Steal Like an Artist:
"It means that you feel like a phony, like you're just winging it, that you really don't have any idea what you're doing.
Guess what: None of us do. Ask anybody doing truly creative work, and they'll tell you the truth. They don't know where the good stuff comes from. They just show up to do their thing. Every day."
I think that's really important to note. That the people we look up to, follow, admire, aspire to be, feel these exact same feelings. Even though they have far more years of experience and expertise, one thing that we share in common is a little creative anxiety and insecurity.
In one of my absolute favorite books, Photography Q&A, Zack Arias even chimes in with feeling Impostor Syndrome as well, but challenges these doubts with some solid advice.
"What I've found is you can't wait until you're ready because you'll never start. You have to take what you have today and build from there. You're further along than you were two years ago. Hopefully, you'll be further along two years from now....
Just go. Go forward. You'll feel like a farce and a phony all the time. It's okay. We all deal with it. You'll have little moments of brilliance and valleys of despair...It is this sort of struggle that drives you. Get past your insecurities. Get over your fear....Go. Keep moving. You'll finish the race.
Here's an exercise I want you to do. Pull out some work you've done two years ago. Cringe worthy right? Yea, I know. Me too. Now, take a look at one of your best pieces that you've done recently. Take a bit of time to acknowledge the milestones you've reached thus far.
Sometimes we're so busy focusing on how far we have to go, that we forget just how far we've come. So long as you're consistently working on your craft, passion, and goals, and giving it your all, then you're doing awesome. And people will recognize and admire that about you. So you (as well as I) need to be proud of that, and embrace it. We've earned it. And it simply means keep going, as my boy Zack so beautifully stated.
--Mad Panda Out