Above: Image by Gina Milicia
noun: imposter syndrome
- the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills.
My first day of art school was the best and worst day of my life. I was so excited to be in a room full of students who shared my love of art. I’d finally found my people! This joy soon turned to despair when I discovered how talented everyone was. I was surrounded by the artistic equivalents of 10’s and I felt like a -50.
I had just graduated from high school where I was a big fish in a small pond. I was the only art student in my graduating year and my confidence as an artist was sky-high. The swagger and smugness were quickly replaced by a new emotion, imposter syndrome. I didn’t belong in this world. I was a fraud. My work sucks. I’m not an artist, I’m just pretending to be one.
By the time I’d graduated, 4 years later, my confidence and swagger were back. My post-grad euphoria lasted about 3 days before my dear friends fear and inadequacy crept back into my life.
I now realise that imposter syndrome or feeling fear and inadequate are normal, common and useful emotions.
“The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.” – Charles Bukowski
Being able to look at your work constructively and see areas for improvement means you are constantly growing as an artist. Fear and self-doubt can be positive emotions that spur you on to be a better artist. Unfortunately, fear and doubt can also be negative emotions that prevent us from evolving as artists.
“If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.”
Nobody likes feeling small but staying in your comfort zone and not challenging yourself or taking risks will guarantee that your work does not improve.
If imposter syndrome is having a negative impact on your work as an artist then here are a few of my favourite quotes to help silence the inner critic and rediscover your confidence.
‘It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not.” – Denis Waitley
“There is a very thin line between confidence and arrogance.” – Adam Peaty
“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
“Style is whatever you want to do if you can do it with confidence.” – George Clinton
“Confidence comes from hours and days and weeks and years of constant work and dedication.” – Roger Staubach
“Trust yourself—you know more than you think you do.” – Benjamin Spock
“Confidence is not, ‘they will like me.’ Confidence instead is, ‘I’ll be fine if they don’t.” – Christina Grimmie