Artists and Creatives More Prone to Imposter Syndrome, How to Cope

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In a TikTok earlier this year, the painter and creator @Moodynoonstudio shared with her 37,000 followers how she copes with deep-seated imposter syndrome.

“If you’re an artist and your brain is incorrectly informing you that everything you make is trash, remember that it is not your job to judge whether or not your art is good or bad,” she says. “It’s just your job to make the stuff.”

The TikToker elaborates: “I say ‘job’ because most artists create because they have to…’cause we go crazy if we didn’t.”

@Moodynoonstudio’s kind reminder gestures at a prevailing and growing sense among creatives in the workforce of never quite feeling that their work is good enough. Several TikTokers, like musician Lucas Jack, have opened up about experiencing chronic imposter syndrome, the term prevalently used in professional settings to describe self-doubt.

“I’m definitely the worst musician onstage,” he said, describing how he feels when he compares himself to other artists that he perceives as “better” and more credible than him.

Valerie Young, a leading expert on imposter syndrome with a doctorate in education, is the cofounder of the Imposter Syndrome Institute, which offers tips on combatting the behavior. Young told Business Insider that those who work in creative fields are significantly more prone to experiencing feelings of doubt and perfectionism when it comes to their craft. Since art can be abstracted and so subjective, an artist will think their product could always be “better” and “stronger” if they continue to work on it, Young noted.

‘Art is so subjective that there really is no right or wrong,’ said one TikToker who struggles with feeling ‘good enough’

Cassandra Hess, a 41-year-old painter based in Scottsdale, Arizona, posted a TikTok earlier this month sharing the woes of not feeling like a “real” artist.

“If you have imposter syndrome, raise your hand!” she captioned her video. “I definitely feel like I’m faking it a lot of the time even though I am constantly being validated that I am a good artist, that I AM an artist.”

Hess told BI her worries of being an “imposter” stem from comparing herself to other artists and not having tangible benchmarks to measure her success (compared to workers in technical trades, for example).

“I think artists struggle with this because, for one, it is so easy to compare ourselves to other artists on social media. And, two, art is so subjective that there really is no right or wrong,” she said. “It’s really difficult to feel special and unique when perhaps we are just recreating something that has been done before.”

Hess admits that she often struggles with feeling “good enough” — especially because that measuring stick can be so flexible and arbitrary based on her and other people’s tastes.

“I was just talking about this with my husband yesterday. He asked me what would be the vision of my ultimate success. I said ‘becoming the best artist that I can be and reach a lot of people with my art so I can be financially independent to keep creating and survive on just creating art,'” she responded.

“Then I said, ‘But I’m not good enough yet, so one day.'”

Shifting one’s mindset to think, instead, that ‘good is good enough,’ Young encouraged

Young told BI that creators like Hess struggle with the “good enough” mindset because they’re constantly moving their own goalposts.

“Anybody who’s producing, who’s writing art, singing, acting, you’re going to be more susceptible to impostor feelings,” said Young. “Yeah, you’re good at what you do. But let’s say you submit something and they go, ‘Wow, this is amazing,’ and you’re like, ‘You know, it could have been a little stronger,’ and you kind of did it last minute.”

The key to managing these feelings — and pushing against business pressures — is assuring oneself that the work is “good enough,” at least for the moment it serves, Young said.

@cassandrapainting If you have imposter syndrome, raise your hand! I definitely feel like I am faking it a lot of the time even though I am constantly being validated that I am a good artist, that I AM an artist. 🌸 It’s amazing how awful our brains can be to ourselves. I logically know that I work my ass off to do what I do and to be where I am at on my artist journey. The question is, when is it enough? When will I really see myself as deserving of the title “artist”? I honestly don’t have the answer to that. 🌸 Maybe in a way it’s good, because I am constantly pushing myself further and further. But the fact is, I am an artist, because I create. It doesn’t matter if I am shitty at it. All that matters is that I continue to create. 🌸 Truth be told, most of the time I don’t truly think I’m bad at it, I just wonder, when will I arrive? I believe there are 2 answers to that question- 1) I have already arrived. and 2) I will never. Personally, I hope to never fully arrive as to where I want to be as I fear then I won’t seek to grow anymore. So I think the real answer is to be happy in the journey and seek only the validation of one’s own self. 🌸 You can thank @Taylor Swift for this. Lol 🌸 #thoughts #mybrainmademedoit #artist #art #create #iammythoughts #impostersyndrome #ithinkthereforeiam #mental #mentalhealth #butseriously #youarewhatyouthink #taylorswift #raiseyourhand #raiseawareness #raiseyourvoice #honesttalk #womanartist #woman #womanpower #girlpower #itsme #imtheproblem #myart #iamanartist #bebrave #outthere ♬ original sound – Cassandra Painting

Young recommends “shifting your mindset about competence — to know that sometimes good enough is good enough and moving on.”

“If you knew you were entitled to make a mistake, have an off day, ask for help, struggle to understand or master something, improve as a leader over time…if you knew you were entitled to do all those things, there would be nothing to feel like an imposter about,” she continued.

Hess, for her part, tries to exercise these self-assurances and compassionate self-talk as often as she can.

“I combat these feelings with telling my inner voice that says ‘what’s the point, you’re never going to be good enough’ that maybe I already am, and if I give up, I may never discover the next great work of art that is inside of me.”

Discourse surrounding “imposter syndrome” continues to prevail online and across professional settings. While there are many resources to help manage these feelings, studies also theorize that embracing imposter syndrome can even be healthy, and lead to more confidence over time.

A peer-reviewed paper from a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology published earlier this year showed a link between people who embodied self-doubting thoughts at work and higher competencies, especially regarding interpersonal skills. The paper found that these people demonstrated an “other-focused” mindset that prioritized listening to others, asking questions, showing empathy, and being encouraging to other employees.

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