“Imposter syndrome.” Have you heard of it? Defined as a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud. Lately I’ve been struggling quite a bit with this. Daily, hourly, I’m bothered by thoughts that say I’m not good enough to be in this field – that I’m a self-taught educator without a degree in the sciences, that I don’t know well how to use my camera and related programs, and ultimately that what I create simply isn’t up to par with where I want it to be. “Where I want it to be.” Let’s be realistic: we can’t all be printed in National Geographic. But we can flourish where we are, as we are. Perfectionism isn’t just being ace at everything you do. It’s striving for a bar of achievement that isn’t reachable, that isn’t realistic, and that doesn’t even exist but within our own minds. So I ask: “good enough” for who? Sometimes we are our own biggest enemies. We criticize ourselves and come up with reasons to rationalize why we aren’t good enough. But the fact is: we’re ALL good enough. We are infinitely more than that. When I find myself feeling this way now, I try to visualize myself through the eyes of a friend, or family member. What would they see? What would they think? Be bold in who you are. You are enough. You matter. Your work matters. You belong here. And you radiate beauty.
I shared the above in a post on Instagram on Friday 3/29 with a caption addressing “Imposter Syndrome.” I never expected to receive such a response! It’s sad that so many of us share in this experience – yet also very unifying. What if we were all so open about these feelings? Would that eliminate the issue altogether? It seems that artists especially struggle with this. We constantly critique our work – often comparing it to that of others. Even if we are reminded of it often, it is so easy to forget that each of us has something unique to offer. While our ideas might not always be original, the way we bring them to life is. No two of us, or our work, or our outlook on life, are the same. Many the tales of Shakespeare, for example, represent his take on age-old stories; it was the way he brought his prose to life that immortalized them. His voice made the difference – the teller over the tale. You are doing the world a disservice by holding back your talents! You are YOU and only you, and only you can be you. This is obvious – and yet there is deep significance in it. Everything that comes out of you is original – and none of it can be offered by anyone else. Ditch intimidation for confidence in that. Take comfort in it. There are over 7.5 billion people in this world, but only YOU can bring your vision to life. So do it. Just do it! Encourage that idea you have. Start drafting it, nurture it, and recognize it as your own. Do your best not to let fear discourage you. There is one surefire way to let imposter syndrome ruin you, and that is to do nothing at all. Your work need not be perfect, it just needs to be - and be in reflection of you.