Is Impostor Syndrome knocking on your door? You are good enough! Don't answer the door!
Impostor Syndrome; (noun)
-a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success
-the inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills
-the idea that you’ve only succeeded due to luck or good timing
Working with Luke Bryan on his tour stop in Minnesota, and Adam Thielen from the MN Vikings.
Have you ever been to a photography class, viewed other photographer’s work, or scrolled through social media and thought ‘Holy (expletive), I’m a terrible photographer! I hope no one realizes how bad of a photographer I actually am!’? Well, I have!
I’ve been a photographer since I was a kid. I went to college for photography, have had images in galleries around the world, and have worked for huge companies and famous people. These achievements should make me feel like I’m doing GREAT in my profession and confirm that I am good enough. Surprisingly, I have to remind myself that I’m not a terrible photographer, ignorant, or undeserving to be in this industry. Welcome, Imposter Syndrome!
Since recognizing this ‘Imposter Syndrome’ madness, I decided to see if any other photographers deal with this issue too. What I learned made me feel better and sad at the same time. I found that I was definitely not alone in feeling like a fraud at times. So far every photographer I’ve listened to has had their own set of doubts. They have compared themselves to others, felt small, or were over critical of their work.
There are many reasons why this happens; and, every person has their own different reasoning. (so says my therapist) Whatever the reason is, there are ways to avoid/soften this self-deprecating talk and reframe ones thinking habits. Here are a few tips and tricks I’ve tried along the way. They have helped me. Maybe one of them will help you.
Gallery show in 2019 where my piece won an award and sold to a collector!
Rephrase the negative talk into positive
Instead of saying ‘That photography class made me feel like I have no idea what I’m doing! How can I be a good photographer?’ Say ‘I learned so much in that photography class! I’m so excited to add this knowledge to what I already know!’ Modifying the negative thought into something positive can help reframe one’s thoughts.
Put yourself in your own shoes
Pretend you are having a conversation with a 10-year-old version of yourself. What would you say to them if they were putting themselves down? Would you tell them that they are correct in thinking they are stupid because they didn’t know something? Would you tell them that their art isn’t good enough? I hope not! Be kind to yourself! Don’t put yourself down. There are enough people in this world that will gladly do that for you. Don’t be one of them too.
Take the compliment with a simple 'Thank-you'
When someone compliments you or your work, say ‘Thank You!’. Do not undermine your accomplishments with a belittling response. It might be weird to believe, but just like you look up to certain photographers, they might be looking up to you too. Be proud of your work. Compliments are a confirmation that you are good at what you do.
Talk to another photographer in person, and not just through text style messaging
Better yet! Meet with a photographer you admire and/or intimidates you in-person! I know social distancing makes this task harder. But Zoom/GoogleMeet has made this easier with the creation of online meetings. Meeting this way is the new face-to-face style of 2020 anyway, so you might as well give it a try.
Just like social media, I think of non-face-to-face conversations as a form of curated content. You can’t tell someone’s true meaning when you read what they’ve written. For all you know I could be yelling at you in this article. (EVEN THOUGH I’M NOT TYPING IN ALL CAPS) Or maybe I’m talking to you like you’re a scared child. (I’m not. I’m actually talking to you out of concern and from a place of wanting to truly help you) But the fact is, is you can’t tell. What one person reads/hears may be interpreted differently then what the person who wrote/said it meant. If a person who intimidates you sends you a message you could interpret it as a put-down or being treated like an idiot. Therefore, meet in person.
Have compassion for yourself
Remember, you are doing amazingly well! You are progressing! You are good enough! And doggone it, people like you!