Overcoming Impostor Syndrome for Artists
It is believed that impostor syndrome affects 70% of the population. I think the number is closer to 90% with artists since we are always comparing our work to others and this can lead to never feeling good enough.
Impostor syndrome is when you think that the success you have was brought on by accident or luck, and any minute now you will be discovered for the fraud that you are.
I personally suffered from this A LOT! When publishing my first art class, I almost didn’t want to because I was doubting myself and thinking: “Who am I to do this?” But thank goodness I ignored the voice! I now have 25 successful classes & over 300,000 students. This would not have been possible if I would have given in to the feeling.
Even after I had my initial success, for a very long time I would feel like a fraud. Every time someone left me a very sweet comment about my classes or art I felt like any second now I’d be called out for not being good enough. But guess what? Nobody ever did. Because I do know what I’m doing. I know how to draw and paint and this is what I teach. Am I the best artist in the world? No. But I don’t have to be. I am good enough to teach and the proof is in the fact that people choose to learn from me.
I overcame this huge hurdle of impostor syndrome some time ago, but I’m not immune. From time to time I still feel like I’m not good enough, but I also know better now. So, if you feel it too, you are not alone. Most people go through this but very few talk about it. It’s too scary to bring to the light. So just because you think that all your artist heroes are super confident, it doesn’t mean they are.
Creativity is hard and we all go through this at different points of our careers. Especially with the constant ebb and flow of inspiration, which is completely natural in the creative process.
But luckily, you don’t have to feel this way. If you are suffering from impostor syndrome you can overcome it!
- Own Your Success! People are bombarded with art every day. If I scroll through Instagram for just 5 minutes I will see TONS of work! 100 years ago you had to go to a museum to see any art and you viewed each piece slowly. We have unlimited options of what to view. So, if you have success, YOU EARNED IT! Strangers aren’t going to take the time to comment about how much they love your art if they don’t mean it. People aren’t going to support you if they don’t mean it. In a world with millions of options, success is harder than ever. So every bit of love and support that comes your way is earned by you and is sincere. You are worthy of what you have accomplished! Just think about it.
- Fake it till you make it! Pretend you are your art heroes. Imagine you make the work they do. Lie to yourself. Tell yourself you can do this and you are good and worthy. Act out the role of the confident artist, even if you don’t feel it. You’d be surprised how many people you look up to do this, especially when they start out.
- Feel the fear/anxiety/doubt but do it anyway! You have to keep taking action towards your goals, no matter how you feel! One step at a time. Failure is normal. Keep failing and growing. It’s the only way to improve! Keep pushing and when success comes, remind yourself how hard you worked for it and that you do deserve it!
- Don’t identify with your art! You are not what you create. There is a tremendous amount of pressure to be the best when your ego is involved with what you do. When you separate yourself from your career, you can be more healthy in your mental space. You make room for mistakes and failure. These are natural and have to happen for growth to happen. They don’t mean you’re an impostor!
- Stop Comparing Yourself to Others! We are all different and have different journeys. When you see art that you fall in love with and that makes you feel like you’re not good enough, you’re not taking into account the thousands of hours that went into practicing to be that good! Art tends to look effortless, but it is ALWAYS only achieved through much effort and many failed attempts. You also do your own unique thing and someone else is looking at you thinking how magical it is. We all offer something different and need to appreciate each other and most importantly, our own unique contribution without comparing ourselves to others. We all rock and contribute something awesome! So, be inspired by your heroes and motivated to be as good as them one day, but in your own special way! Like I said before, you never know. They are probably suffering from impostor syndrome too!
- Practice meditation. Meditation is one of the best things you can do to improve every area of your life! Just 10 minutes a day is enough! It really helps with impostor syndrome, because it will help you to become more aware of your thoughts and to quiet your mind. You will realize you are NOT your thoughts, and it will make it easier to disregard the negative ones and just let them go. Also, you will live more in the present moment, and in doing so a lot of the anxiety will naturally disappear.
- Practice affirmations. You can do this by thinking the opposite of every negative thought that pops up, just repeating it over and over. Or you can write down a positive statement about yourself, like: “I am an amazing and successful artist. I know what I’m doing and I believe in myself. I love the work that I make.“ Put the note somewhere you’ll see it a lot, like on your wall, desk, or in your wallet, and read it when self-doubt creeps in. Or even better yet, write down a ton of affirmations and record yourself saying them. Now you can listen to yourself being nice to yourself on loop while cleaning the house!
- Love yourself and your art! Self-love is super important!!! You are so unique! There will never be another you! The same goes for your art, it is something special and unique that only you can offer to the world! You have to appreciate your you-ness!!!
Impostor syndrome really sucks, but realize you are not alone! I bet almost all your heroes have it! It’s extremely common and normal. Once you realize that everyone has it, people you respect and look up to, you can understand that it’s a lie you tell yourself. You are worthy, good enough, and deserve all of your achievements!! 🙂