Photo from Unsplash, taken by Raj Eiamworakul
What’s Imposter Syndrome, I hear you wondering. It’s really simple, actually. It’s that feeling of being really bad at what you do, when in reality you’re actually really good, or at least better than you want to think. Nothing is more annoying than Imposter Syndrome because you’re always doubting your own work; and from the outside it can make you seem like an attention seeker or humble bragger or someone who’s just constantly fishing for compliments, when in reality, you’re really struggling.
Some level of self-criticism is really good, I feel. It can fuel your desire to be better and is often the driving force behind your improvement. But there is a huge difference between being critical of your own work, and having Imposter Syndrome. When you always think what you do is awful, to some extent you will push yourself to improve, but it also has a negative impact on you mentally. It drags you through the mud a little because you feel like nothing you do is good enough ever. It can make you feel down all the time.
As far as I know, there’s no easy way to break out of Imposter Syndrome. It’s the hardest struggle for you to have to deal with as a creative because all you want to do is have good work. When you feel like everything you do is awful and you have no confidence in anything you do, you’re going to limit yourself. I think fake it ’til you make it might be the best weapon you have in this instance. Act like you’re as good as you want to be and maybe you’ll be able to break free.
Practicing positive thinking can also help a lot in these situations. Looking at the things you do think you do well, or even noting improvement can make a wild difference. It shifts your mindset into a growth-minded one and lends itself to improvement without having to drag yourself down. Always looking on the bright-side can drastically improve the way you look at your work.
And the final thing to help, stop comparing yourself to those who are around you. Comparison is the thief of joy they say, and I think it’s true. As someone who falls victim to comparisons all the time, it can truly sap any positivity you have about your work. It’s easy to look at the highlights of people’s work and say that it’s better than yours, when in reality, the other person is farther along in their journey. They probably have the same feelings they have as you with another artist, or simply have had them at another point in time on their journey.
Trying to stay positive about your work when you don’t feel like you’re doing your best can be draining. But it doesn’t mean you’ll always feel that way, you just have to help yourself along a little and make an effort to not let it swallow you whole, because it will if you give it the chance to.