I thought I was a Fake.
When I received my brand-new business cards in the mail, I stared on that little line below my name that read “Abstract Artist”. I couldn't shake the feeling that I was being somehow delusional. That there are millions of artists out there that are better than me. I felt I am not proficient or accomplished enough, that I should not call myself an “artist”.
Do you also know this feeling of inadequacy and insecurity - the secret thought of being a “fake”, and that soon everybody finds out? This feeling is called “Imposter Syndrome” and according to studies, about 70% of women experience imposter syndrome at some point in their professional lives.
It’s a feeling that we don’t deserve the success that we achieved, the inability of recognizing our accomplishments and talents, despite the clear signs of success. Then there is the persistent voice in our brain telling us that we’re tricking people by appearing more competent and talented than we are, accompanied by an ongoing fear that we’ll be found out and exposed as a fraud.
Those feelings are especially common when we enter a new career path, or when we do that next big step and also when we start something completely new.
The simple and understandable reason behind imposter syndrome is the fear of failing. Nobody wants to fail, especially if we are following our dreams or achieving an important goal, such as landing your first solo exhibition, or being featured in the art section of a magazine.
As a defense mechanism, we are trying to talk ourselves out of the idea. We are procrastinating or self-sabotaging. We might even convince ourselves that it’s better to try not at all than to fail.
Once we understand the reason behind it, it’s easier to rationalize and overcome imposter syndrome. Here are some strategies that have proven to be helpful:
- Understand and accept that you deserve the success
It’s not pure luck that you were given an opportunity that others weren’t or that you achieved the success that others didn't.
Opportunities don’t magically appear out of nowhere. You did do something right to get where you are now. Trust that you had a big role in where you are now.
- Look closely at all possible outcomes
Often the fear of failure is not knowing what lies ahead, what comes next or what situations we might encounter after our “big promotion” or overnight success. Researching and talking through possible situations and analyzing potential outcomes can prepare is for what upcoming situations
- Understand that it is born from doubts – and that everybody has doubts
Not many are confident enough to talk about their doubts and insecurities. The best strategy to overcome doubts is to do it regardless.
Forge ahead, ignore these doubts and get over it by moving forward. If you hold back because of your self-doubts, you don’t unlock your potential. And isn't that way worse?
- Build a support network of fans and believers
Make sure you surround yourself with people that support your art, that cheer you on and are 100% convinced that you deserve everything and more. This is your tribe, the people that fuel your confidence and help you to overcome your fear and doubts – and they also give you that reality check, that's sometimes necessary.
Let’s keep it real: It's almost impossible for us to go through life without experiencing the one or other kind of failure. And what can really happen if we’re making a mistake? What is the worst-case-scenario? It might turn out to be not as bad as we make it out to be in our head.
From my experience, the best way to overcome imposter syndrome is to take a deep breath, acknowledge that you deserve the achievement and thank your success. You belong here! And then ... JUST MOVE FORWARD towards the next goal!
Do you have a proven strategy to overcome imposter syndrome? Tell us what worked, and what didn't work for you in the comments.
PS. Join us on “Artsy Broads over 50” - it's a supportive Facebook community that celebrates female creatives in their "mid-life". Here we can laugh about ourselves, share stories, inspire and motivate each other, network with other kickass artists and help each other in growing our artistic ambitions and businesses.