Imposter Syndrome

It is my opinion that artists are among those who have the hardest time with the imposter syndrome.  The number of artists who I have met who are reluctant or hesitant to call themselves "artists" is staggering.  I believe that part of this is due to the fact that there's no concrete line to cross that takes a person from being a hobbyist to an artist, but it's also because we're afraid that if we call ourselves artists, we'll be "found out" and called out as a fraud.

The thing about the imposter syndrome, or the fear of being an imposter, when you're not, is that it's most often unfounded and it's in your head.  Unless you're running a scam or ripping someone off, the imposter syndrome need not plague you.  

Here are some perspectives that can help you shake the feeling of being an imposter:

1. Realize that most people feel this way.  Even super successful business professionals, athletes, and actors feel like imposters from time to time.  

Feeling inadequate is incredibly common, not unique, and not interesting.

2. Stop comparing yourself.  Social media has this impact on people.  Scrolling through Instagram and looking at all the fabulous photos people have posted about their incredible work, always inspiring living space, their productive schedule while you're sitting on the floor in yoga pants while children scream all around you can definitely make you feel like those people are the real deal and you're the fake.  

Quit comparing their highlight reel with your unpolished current situation.

3. Acknowledge that no one has it all figured out.  Some people know a lot about specific things and nothing about others.  Some people choose route A and others choose route B to the same destination.  We all just bump around and do whatever we think is best.

4. When you're feeling like a vulnerable fraud, call it for what it is.  Say, out loud, to yourself, "Wow, that imposter syndrome is really hitting me today."  Then fight it off by mentally or physically listing all your successes and why you're not a fraud.  

Don't let thoughts of inadequacy stop you.

5. Fake it until you make it is a real strategy.  Want to be an artist?  Make art.  Believe that in order to call yourself an "artist" you have to sell your work?  Well, make art, but remember that people buy art made by... artists.  If what you do every day makes you into who you are, then remember that making art every day makes you into an artist, or whatever it is you're feeling fraud-y about.

In the rare event that some one does call you a fraud, what then? Spend some time thinking out the worst possible scenario and then problem solve about how you would face that.  When we chatted about the book, "Feel the Fear... and Do It Anyway", the author's premise was that fear comes from our own belief that we won't be able to handle whatever we're afraid about.  Figure out how you'll handle that situation, let the fear dissipate, and feel renewed by the fact that you can handle anything.

You're the real deal.  You got this.