I don’t deserve to be writing this because there are more capable people who can speak more eloquently than I can that can deliver this message to you.
This is exact thought that went through my head as I was writing this blog post because I’m not the best writer. It took 10 minutes just to figure out to start and I often make mistakes even after proofreading. I try twice as hard to convey my thoughts, so why should you be reading this?
In simple terms, an effect of imposter syndrome is when no matter how good your work actually is, you will always feel like you don’t deserve the praise and accomplishments that come your way. You will doubt yourself for everything you put out. In some people, it’s such a serious issue that it prevents them from progressing forward at all. Some people have even left the industry over it because they never got over feeling like they weren’t good enough. It’s a illogical sense of insecurity that has no real basis behind it.
What makes it even worse is that most people often suffer in silence, only coming out in private to specific individuals. I know people close to me in my life that feel this way and it brings them to a point of extreme stress. They feel like frauds no matter how talented they are. They feel other people are just as skilled and they don’t deserve what they’ve received. It gets even worse when they become more noticed than others, it can even lead to breakdowns and outright conflict with themselves.
Watching platforms like Instagram Stories can lead to the frustration of it. To put it in photography terms, seeing the final edit of someone’s life doesn’t give you an insight into all the non-selects.
The loophole is that no matter what feedback they hear about their work, it doesn’t help. Positive feedback goes on deaf ears and negative feedback affirms the doubts in their heads.
If you’ve had similar thoughts with your own work, then you might have imposter syndrome.
The main thing we can do is talk about it. And that is exactly why I am here to talk about it. Even though I suffer from it as well and stop myself from putting myself out there as much as I know I can, I want to open up this dialogue to let you know that you don’t have to feel this way alone. You deserve the praise your work gets, and that the voice of doubt is not based in actual fact.
This also leads me to theory I have about people who go out of their way to really bring others down online. It’s inverse imposter syndrome. In essence, if their work isn’t getting the praise they think it deserves, no one else should receive it either and they will go out of their way to tear them down.
This vile behavior is especially dangerous to people who suffer with imposter syndrome as it weakens their moral and feeds the illogical mind even further.
It’s Normal. Let’s talk about this!
If this article summed up what you’ve been feeling, please know it’s completely normal. Now that you’ve identified this, I want you to talk to other creatives about this and see who else feels this way. Take the first step and be the change you want to see in yourself and others. Let’s open the dialogue so we can all feel a little more comfortable being in a space where sharing our work and accolades can feel positive by just knowing we’re not alone.
About the Author
Pratik Naik is a high-end retoucher, photographer, and retouching teacher under his Solstice Retouch brand, he also runs the successful Retouchist Blog. You can follow Pratik on his Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook. This article was also published here and shared with permission
[lead image by Alex Iby]