Let’s get real vulnerable here. Have you felt shocked that people continue to book you or pay for your art? Win an award that you didn’t feel like you deserved?? Feel like your work isn’t good enough or not as good as (insert other photographer here)? You’re not alone.
Let’s call it what it is. Imposter Syndrome (or Imposter Phenomenon) is 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. Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon remain convinced that they are frauds, and do not deserve all they have achieved.
You are not alone. Many people experience imposter syndrome. One survey from our friends across the pond indicated that 85% of working adults feel inadequate at work, yet only 25% of those were aware of impostor syndrome (shout out: Wikipedia). It doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t apply to just photographers and creatives, but different jobs and skills. Many very successful people suffer from the same—sometimes crippling—perception of themselves.
What does it look like? Impostor Syndrome often rears its ugly head in the form of fear. You’re fearful of trying new things. Maybe you’re afraid to branch out into another niche of photography or ask to collaborate with some people you admire. Often times, that fear will limit your progress and take you to a place of low self-esteem. And that’s hard.
Here’s what to do:
Acknowledge it. Feelings are not facts, so allowing yourself to acknowledge your feelings will lead you to facts. Make a list of your successes that are based on facts. As with so many mental hurdles, the only way past it… is through it.
Talk about it. Be open about these feelings with your friends, family and peers. Find a mentor and share it with them. You’ll get valuable feedback and start to think through ways to turn the narrative into something possible. You also might find someone who is suffering from the same thing. It sometimes takes a village, right?
Show yourself some grace. Beating yourself up has never turned into growth. But learning from your feelings will. Failing, or your perception of failing, is critical to the learning process. Find a few ways to collect some wins and start feeling that good energy again. Focus on self-care and understanding that you are in control of YOU and you’re amazing.
Do you have any experience with this? If so, hop over to our Facebook group and let’s talk it out.