The impostor syndrome

The impostor syndrome

You don’t know how hard it is to write this. But I think it is very necessary, since it is a problem that affects many illustrators, creatives and people in general, both professionally and personally.

Impostor syndrome is a phenomenon that makes us think that our achievements are just luck, that at any moment people around us are going to realize that we are a fraud and that we are not really good at what we do.

It usually goes hand in hand with perfectionism (the difficulty to accept any imperfection or mistake in what we are doing) and, in my case, it directly attacks my self-esteem since I tend to relate my worth as a person with how productive I am or with the quality of my work.

Does all of this ring a bell?

This kind of deadly combo – imposter syndrome, perfectionism, and associating self-worth with productivity – has lost me many opportunities and put more obstacles than I can count. And the worst thing is that I have always been more or less aware of it, but it is very difficult to break these patterns.

At one point, they even made me throw in the towel and completely stop drawing for a few months. In the end, I realized that I needed a change of perspective and, after reflecting a lot, I came to a series of conclusions:

  • I draw because I like it, therefore I should have fun while doing it.
  • It is better to have something finished than to have something perfect.
  • I am NOT my work.
  • I have the right to make mistakes. In fact, if I don’t make any mistakes I’ll never improve.
  • If someone doesn’t like my work, it’s not the end of the world. Not everyone can like it.
  • I deserve to invest time in pursuing my dream job, or at least to try.

All of this sounds great, but it is very very VERY difficult to internalize. It takes patience and you have to accept that there will be ups and downs, better and worse days. So if you are on this path, you go girl!

Here are some extra resources on the subject:

  • Struthless: Illustrator Campbell Walker’s channel. He tells us about his life experience, how he deals with the traps that his mind sets for him during the creative process. He gives some fun and interesting techniques to overcome these obstacles.
  • Viviendo del cuento (in Spanish): In this podcast, illustrators Eva Carot, Srta M and Laura Gómez talk about the profession of the illustrator. In this episode they talk about the impostor syndrome, but I recommend listening to the rest of the episodes since they are as interesting as they are entertaining.

Does all of this sound like you? Do you follow any techniques to deal with the impostor syndrome?

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