No matter what creative venture I stick my fingers in, it’s rarely “good enough”. I mean sure, other’s may like it, love it, rave about it, share it, etc. but in my mind, at best it’s good. Average. Sufficient. Room for improvement. Rarely can I look at something I’ve created and feel proud, even while acknowledging any flaws or shortcomings I can see. This can be a good thing – as I’m never satisfied with my skill level, and always trying to improve and get better. But often – far too often – I let it go well beyond that. I tend to let my self-worth be tied to my own opinion of my work, or other’s negative observations of my work. I hardly stop to allow compliments and constructive criticism to soak into my soul and I don’t know how to step back and view my work objectively – I only know how to view them through my own skewed perspective.
Thankfully it’s not always like that. Rarely, like approximately 2% of the time, I can look at something I’ve made and feel pride and confidence. Rarely can I read something I’ve written, or a picture I’ve shot, and feel really good about it. I mean proud of the shot, or the article I wrote, proud of the time and effort that went into it, proud of the outcome that I got, just all around proud. Which (when tied to chronic low self-esteem issues) definitely feels more than a little weird. Below is one such example
Last weekend I was invited to shoot at a small show “Saturday Night Blues Cafe” – I had fun, and met some cool people, and might have some work coming in because of it. Nothing confirmed yet, mind you, but the inquiry was definitely legit. I got some good shots, plenty of not-so-good ones, and more than one that made me pause… and allow some of that pride to wash over me.
But after some introspection, I know I’m not alone in feeling this way. I haven’t met a creative mind that hasn’t or doesn’t struggle with this feeling of being an impostor, of being a fake artist faking your way hoping to convince everyone (but mostly yourself) that you’re worthy of the accolades and praise you’re getting. You deem your art to be sub-par, and are waiting to be “found out” and exposed for the fraud you are… except you aren’t. And I’m not. I just need to convince myself it’s true, something that seems to be a very long work-in-progress.
I suppose that’s the beauty of art. We can enjoy it but only the artist knows how much they have put into it; from practicing the technical skills, to the years of evolving their own “style”, to how many unfinished works are destroyed before they see the light of day. The artist (be it a painter, sculptor, musician, writer, photographer, or whatever) is allowing you to see a part of their heart and soul – allowing the world at large to observe, discuss, critique, and move on to the next thing within moments. And part of that soul is waiting to be called an impostor, no matter how much praise they might get.