Someone in a group I belong on Facebook posted this cartoon the other day. And it was funny but hit a bit too close to home right now.
Impostor syndrome is when someone is unable to internalize their accomplishments, but instead feel they are a fraud that people are someday going to find out is a fraud. It is marked with comments like above – someone describes them as greatly successful, and their first response is to downplay their accomplishments while elevating others.
Why did this hit close to home?
Well, I feel like I am Dr Adams in that comic strip.
I am a photographer. (You have no idea how conscious of a decision it is for me to write "I AM" instead of "I take photos" or "I’m a hobbiest".) Anyway, I am a photographer, yet I have a hard time realizing my photos are good. I see the effects rain created because they hit the lens. I see the things better photographers would have been able to photoshop away. I like what I do, but like when I played softball, I see my mistakes instead of my accomplishments.
But when I curate art shows, I spend time convincing people that their art is good enough. I help them get the experience in hopes that it gags that voice in their head telling them they aren’t real. I play cheerleader – I give positive feedback – I help them take a step closer to being able to say "I am an artist" rather than "I play with art" or something that implies they are less.
And yet – posting the event listings for the upcoming show where my art is going to be featured is like giving that voice inside me a blow horn. "PEOPLE WON’T SHOW UP!" or "THEY WON’T LIKE THEM LIKE YOU DO". Putting my show statement out there – and putting my photo samples out there just adds to the voice and what it is trying to say to me.
I keep telling it to shut up.
Last night, as I was doing this promotional work, I was also getting photos ready for hanging. And with each print, I sat there giggling at how it turned out – how much I love them all – and how choosing which photos to use has been extremely hard. Thankfully I get more ink today because I keep rethinking some of the shots I’m using as I try to mix it up. As I giggled and plotted, the voice got quieter which was definitely nice.
I am working hard on not be Dr Adams in the comic.