How to overcome imposter syndrome
You’re not alone! Imposter syndrome affects nearly all of us and is generally worse in women and people of colour.*
It could be because us creatives are naturally more sensitive souls, or maybe in the business of music we are comparing ourselves to the constant number 1 achievers like our gal, Taylor Swift. Either way, this little guide will give you some tips and tricks to kick imposter syndrome to the curb and let you be the bad bitch you are destined to be.
What is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter Syndrome or Imposter Phenomenon is characterised as feeling like a fraud or imposter, as well as doubting your skills. People who battle with imposter syndrome fear being found out or exposed and it goes hand in hand with success. Imposter syndrome is not a mental illness, but may cause symptoms and feelings which are similar to anxiety such as feeling nervous, restless or tense, a sense of dread, increased heart rate, rapid breathing are among the many similar symptoms.**
Sometimes, as a result of these feelings of incompetence, people can overwork or self-sabotage as a way of dealing with the syndrome. They often put their achievements or success down to luck or a mistake.
As creative’s imposter syndrome can be harder to deal with, as all art is subjective. Art is never really good or bad and trying to create a clean distinction between both is impossible.
Ways to overcome imposter syndrome
Before trying any of these tips and tricks, remember it is not an instant cure. This will take time, and it’s important not to get frustrated with ourselves. Everyone progresses at different rates!
Change your internal dialogue
The feelings of imposter syndrome aren’t based on reality, though it can feel like it is!
Do you put yourself down? Tell yourself you’re not good enough. STOP. STOP THAT NOW. You ARE good enough! As artists, it can be hard to be kind to ourselves about our work and success, it’s good to aim high, but comparing ourselves to every other musician will not help. Success isn’t a destination.
Focus on the positive
What have you achieved? What are you proud of? List them all down if it helps you, but remember to give some space for the incredible things that you have done throughout your career. If this is something that is particularly hard for you, why not create a list? Or every time you do something you’re proud of, you can write it down on a piece of paper and keep it in a box- this gives you something to come back to in the moments where imposter syndrome is a little harder to fight.
3. Stop comparing yourself to others
This, by far, is maybe one of the hardest to stop yourself doing. In the age of social media, we are constantly seeing everyone’s best moments. Remind yourself that you don’t see the struggle behind other musicians, everyone will always post their best work. What you may find easy, another musician may find hard. Appreciate that everyone is different and has different skill sets, but that doesn’t make you weaker or a worse musician. It means you are unique. Your skill sets make you, you! Without those differences, you wouldn’t be you and we love YOU!
4. Talk about it and talk some more
Now you don’t need to go around telling everyone about how you feel if you don’t want to, but speak to some trusted people in your circle. Whether that is a friend, a parent, another musician that you respect. Share your experiences and I guarantee you, someone will feel the same as you! Voicing how you feel takes some of the shame away and will give your brain some room to focus on the more creative things.
5. Stop questioning, more doing
This is a one that takes some time, so don’t throw yourself into this one if you’re not ready. Quite often we make excuses, the song isn’t ready, the vocal take isn’t good enough, I don’t have enough time. It’s about breaking down these excuses. Are they coming from fear? If they are, in the words of Cinderella Story, feel the fear and do it, anyway. You don’t need to do anything risky or dangerous but a gentle nudge to do something that challenges you and takes you out of your comfort zone is good whether that is releasing a song, getting a trusted person to listen to your track or play your first gig. If you always stay in your comfort zone, you aren’t growing, but you can just take little steps and before you know it, you will look back and see how much you’ve improved. I believe in you!
6. Fake it til you make it
I guarantee you this helps. Confidence is something that comes with time, but in the meantime, no one needs to know you’re nervous! This isn’t necessarily for everyone, but it can definitely help. Look at the pros. What are they doing? Do it! Confidence comes from risks paying off. People love you and your music, they want to see you succeed. If everyone was the same, music would be boring.
7. Ask for help
This is a given, but a lot of us don’t do it. Maybe it’s fear, maybe it’s not wanting to take up people’s time. But if you ask, most people are willing to help.
8. Be gentle with failures.
Failure doesn’t mean that you are terrible at everything you do. It just means you can’t do it right now. It can be hard to be rational about failure, but think about what you learnt from it. How you can improve next time and be determined to keep trying.
9.Give yourself a break
This is an important one. Give yourself a break! You are doing the best you can, and that is enough. Why did you get into music? For YOU. So do this for you, don’t do it for anyone else. If you need a break away from it all, that’s okay! There are no rules to how you cope with imposter syndrome. You may find a way that is perfect for you that is the complete opposite of this guide and that is okay. No one knows you better than you know yourself. Take it at your own pace and remind yourself you have come so far and you will keep going further. Perfection is a myth. Strive for your best, but make your goals realistic.
10. Set goals
Setting goals for yourself is a great way to keep track of how you are progressing and what you are achieving. Think about what you want to achieve by when and write them down. Visualise success.
You have got this! Be gentle and kind to yourself. You are doing great. Let us know if you have any other tips.