I’d like to take a moment to discuss a serious topic that a lot of artists face… Imposter Syndrome (IS)!
First things first if you don’t know what IS is, it’s defined by the Very Well Mind as: Impostor syndrome refers to an internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be. While this definition is usually narrowly applied to intelligence and achievement, it has links to perfectionism and the social context.
Now being totally honest I’m not an expert in mental health or have any training but I have personally experienced IS many many times, normally before a market or big event, where I interact with people or where I know there will be a lot of other amazing makers, so I get the feeling of not being good enough or there being someone out there better than you.
It’s not that you 100% don’t believe in yourself or your work but there’s always that nagging feeling hanging around that keeps telling you “Your work isn't not good enough” or “They’re way better than you, why are you even bothering to do this?”.It’s a really difficult syndrome to work with but is honestly very normal, especially if you don’t have the best confidence, and there’s no sure-fire fix for it, we’re all different and all cope differently.
Here are some things I always try to remember or do when I’m faced with IS:
1. Listening to the feedback
When you’re at a market or you’re receiving positive, listen to it! I know it’s not the easiest thing but find one or two comments that really make you feel good and hold on to them, for these moments, to give you some positivity.
Keeping track of your sales is standard practice with a small business but this is a great way to show yourself your success. Increases in sales and engagement is positive for your business and indicates that people like your stuff. When you get uncertain go back and look at how many people are viewing your work or buying from you.
3. Take a break
As with anything, if it gets too much take a break. Nothing is worth ruining your mental health for and taking a break will help you come back with fresh ideas and a new approach.
4. Business groups or friends
Having friends that are in the same boat as you is really helpful, you can support each others progress and they also make a great soundboard when you’re a little stuck. I personally have made sure to surround myself with these amazing people, and it’s helped me feel confident and grow in this world.
5. Ask for help
There is nothing wrong with ask for a little help or advice. Even the big brands had to start somewhere! I’ve spoken to big name bloggers to ask for their advice on getting seen more or when people get certain bits of product/packaging, the good ones are happy to help everyone.
It’s not unusual to feel IS to some degree but the important thing is to not let it consume you, you’re making and selling your work for a reason and people are buying for a reason! Cut yourself a break and stay creative.