"I feel embarrassed to call myself an artist now."
It was a boost to my confidence to read those words. How many times had I said or thought something like that? I had been admiring someone else's detailed drawings or gorgeous paintings and felt like a total fraud. Someone else saying that to me, it was a weird feeling.
In the next turn my mind headed back to that same old feeling of embarrassment, feeling like a fraud. Why would anyone feel like that because of me? Is he making fun of me?
It's known as impostor phenomenon or impostor syndrome, and it is pretty common. An article published in a magazine of American Psychological Association describes impostor phenomenon/syndrome:
"First described by psychologists Suzanne Imes, PhD, and Pauline Rose Clance, PhD, in the 1970s, impostor phenomenon occurs among high achievers who are unable to internalize and accept their success. They often attribute their accomplishments to luck rather than to ability, and fear that others will eventually unmask them as a fraud."
Anyone can feel it in times, it's a natural reaction when you are trying to do new things. It's a mix of fear and the pressure to achieve. Then there are those of us who are more susceptible to impostor syndrome. The sense of being a fraud can be related to many factors, such as being part of a minority, being isolated from your peers, and having been grown up in a family, which emphasises achievement a little too much.
Impostor syndrome makes you suppress the value of your accomplishments, and try to be perfect all the time. Success begins to seem like something for which you have to suffer tremendously. And even when you reach that success, it is not enough, nor it is as perfect as it could be. It's a loop and difficult to shake off. Comparing yourself to others is not doing any good to you and your impostor syndrome. Comparison appears to be one of the things that fuel the feeling of being a fraud.
Impostor syndrome can be suppressed, though it is easier said than done. To begin you must recognise your own expertise, understand your value and take credit for things you have done. At what are you good, what do you do well, what are your real strengths?
An article, published at BBC business and work section, suggests writing a list of your strengths and skills, and even asking others which strengths they have noticed you possess. Next you need to realise nobody is perfect. It can be difficult these days when sharing life events is common, but authenticity is rare. But even those who keep up appearances have problems and stuff. Perhaps you are having impossible standards.
When you suffer from impostor syndrome you tend to be too hard on yourself. Try and do something well enough for once. You are a mere mortal, not a magical being, not a robot, not a god.