I don’t always have confidence in everything that I do. I often have what’s called “Impostor Syndrome,” which is basically a belief that at any moment, the world will discover that I’m a fraud.
It is a secret dread that someone, somewhere, will one day take a single look at a site I’ve designed, a photo I’ve taken, a social media strategy I’ve recommended for a client, and find the obvious flaw that I overlooked, the aspect of it that will reveal that I am, indeed, a fake.
It has taken the help of a lot of books, a lot of listening to my business coach, and a lot of self-checking to ensure that I don’t let this fear drive my behavior. If I allowed it to, I wouldn’t be in business. In fact, most people in my life might not even know that I own a camera or love design.
And it’s because of overcoming Impostor Syndrome—sometimes every day—that I have been able to grow, to expand my knowledge and skill, to help more and more people, and, indeed, connect with other people who are trying to do the very thing I am: make a living creatively.
This week two different industry professionals that I look up to in my area went out of their ways to reach out and offer me encouragement. I couldn’t even believe it!
One said, “I’ve been hearing so much about you lately! You’re a rockstar!” The other, who has been in business since 1992 and owns her own company with a full design team, reached out to see if we could work collaboratively. She wanted me to come down to her studio to meet with her and her creative director.
I was humbled in every sense of the word by both encounters. On the one hand, Impostor Syndrome ought to have been the furthest thing from my mind—I’d just received validation from two awesome #girlbosses who are tremendously further along in their careers than I am. Wow! On the other, I realized that soon, in different capacities, I’ll be meeting each of them, and my knees will be knocking with the fear that they won’t actually like my work.
I’ve pushed that latter feeling aside for now. Because who needs an extra dose of discouragement? Why trade honey for vinegar? Anyone trying to make a living doing something creative deserves all the encouragement she can get!
You may not have received the encouragement lately that you need. Let me be that encouragement for you. If you’re trying to do something creative, and you’re doubting that anyone ever again will love and appreciate your work, seek you out for it, and maybe even pay you for it: Don’t give up.
Every creative person who wants to make a living doing something he loves goes through this. Every creative has moments of doubt; weeks of eating store-brand macaroni and cheese and ramen noodles; and an internal battle with comparison.
But the ones who stick out those hard times also get moments of triumph, nights in with friends that they wouldn’t trade for anything, and stories to pass on to the next up-and-comers who are bursting with potential but aren’t quite there yet.
Hang tight. You’re close to the next moment that will make everything worth it.
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