Ever felt like your art isn’t good enough and even though you know it’s what you want to do, have been commissioned by top clients, sold works worth thousands in any currency and, everyone says your art is beautiful, you feel like you are not artist enough? If this is a relatable feeling for you, then welcome to the league of elite artists who feel the imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome according to the Merriam Webster dictionary is commonly understood as a false and sometimes crippling belief that one’s successes are the product of luck or fraud rather than skill. Every professional is susceptible to feeling the imposter syndrome but the artist is even more susceptible, simply because the determinant of what skills you have, and your value as an artist is subjective. So long as you try to improve your skills as an artist, the imposter syndrome is likely always going to be with you. The imposter syndrome just like social media, is what you make of it. It could fuel you, or, it could slow you down.
Here are three things to note when trying to get the imposter syndrome to fuel and not drain you:
1. You are not alone
Understand that you are not alone. Neil Armstrong walked the moon but felt like an imposter any way, so does Lupita Nyong’o, Beyonce, and countless other great artists. In navigating your journey as an artist, it is important to always bear in mind that no one, not even the greats, regardless of how self assured they might seem, knows what they are doing. Everyone is pretty much just winging it. Know this and know peace.
2. Be your own full time hype woman/man
The brain is like a fickle muscle which when it contracts, makes you forget how great an artist you are. Thus you must keep a memorabilia of great works you’ve created, as this is great for tackling the imposter syndrome. Dwelling on the opinions of others is ordinarily not advisable, especially when such opinion is uninformed, but where a client or an avid observer of your work gives a review of work as great, do well keep these reviews handy in your memorabilia for hard times when you feel like an imposter. This would help remind you that you actually do good work and revalidate the fact that you’re worthy. Worthy of the title artist and that you deserve to take up space anywhere and at anytime. Being your own hype person also involves scheduling sessions with a therapist/life coach. These days these services are affordable, sometimes free and within your reach. Post-Covid, there’s better awareness for the need for self-care and mental health management. Thus there’s the general consciousness, that scheduling sessions with a therapist is not a sign that you’re losing it, but instead that you’re keeping it together. Joining a community of artists with similar experiences, who can support you when you feel self doubt also helps you manage the imposter syndrome effectively. Kurating has such a community.
3. Let go of your Ego
Remember Beyonce’s song “Ego”? With the lyrics, “I got a big ego” That’s very likely you. You may not realize this as naturally, you consider yourself one of the humblest persons on earth, but the truth is having an ego is normal. Every human is born with one. It’s as normal as having a tongue. imposter syndrome is generally classified as phobia related but on the flip side, it’s also an offshoot of pride, and not wanting to hurt your ego. It sometimes manifests as a fear but there’s a thin line between being too scared to fail, or being too proud to put out less than perfect work out. But here’s something practical to help. When faced with a decision that will help grow your career and you feel tempted to withdraw, as a result of the imposter syndrome, ask yourself this question. What’s the worst that could happen? And if the worst is you getting a no, or not closing a sale, and not a fatal consequence, then by all means take the risk. Never be too afraid or proud to do the things that matter most to your career. And that’s how you beat imposter syndrome.