Not Your Typical Encouragement

Not Your Typical Encouragement

Imposter syndrome is real. I can guarantee that you’ve felt it at some point in your life – even if you ended up here by accident and don’t dabble in the arts (stick around anyway).

W h a t   i s   i m p o s t e r   s y n d r o m e ? It’s what you feel every time you get a compliment you don’t think you deserve. It’s the reason you think twice about putting that accomplishment on Facebook, because you are convinced no one who knew you when you were starting out will believe it is legitimate. It’s being bummed that your favorite sweater is stretched out or shrunken because there is no way you lost or gained that much weight, no matter how hard you worked. 

Imposter syndrome is the psychological phenomenon that makes someone who has achieved something noteworthy feel like it’s either not a big deal or that others will think they are a fraud. 

When it comes to art,  I   t h i n k   t h e r e   a r e   t w o   m a i n   r e a s o n s  we can feel this way: either we see others who are so much better than us (newsflash - there will ALWAYS be someone better than you) no matter how much we try, and/or because we will always be our own harshest critics (pro tip - once your work is 80 percent done, the lay person will never know it’s not done unless you tell them).  Want to know a secret? I reread that last sentence and thought, “There is no way anyone will take me seriously as a writer with crazy long sentences like that.” The struggle is real.

What I’ve found is that sometimes the best encouragement comes from o u t s i d e   o f   y o u r   f i e l d . If your encourager is also an artist and they are “better” than you, you feel like they are just humoring you with their kind words. If they are a “weaker” artist, you feel like they have no authority to say one way or the other anyway. Why are we so cruel to ourselves?

I am a studio art major, and the temptation to feel like a fraud can be so easy to give into. I have brilliant classmates, and I have seen the superior work my professors did when they were my age. In order to keep the Smoke Monster (Lost, anyone?) in my brain from getting me, there are a few quotes I constantly refer to that have made all the difference. None of them are from artists, art blogs, or even about art – and I think that is precisely why they are so helpful.

I’m going to share them with you below and then leave you to your thoughts. I hope they bring you as much peace as they have brought me. I encourage you to find your own. Share them in the comments! Write them down somewhere you will see them often, maybe the sketchbook you put your color swatches in. Putting these in places you’re certain to run across when you’re creating can mean getting the right encouragement when you most need it, even if you don’t realize you should be looking for it.  Y o u   a r e   n o t   a n   i m p o s t e r .  I promise.


“Act your wage.”
Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey
A play on “act your age". He is making the point that you cannot expect to earn or spend in your 20s what your parents are earning and spending in their 50s. You cannot expect to paint as well in your first month as someone who has been painting for years. Pay your dues.


“Boredom is the enemy, not failure.”

The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Farris

The opposite of success is not failure, it’s boredom. A lack of inspiration or initiative is far worse than a failed piece of art.


 “Talent isn’t enough, she had told us. Writing is work. Anyone can do this, anyone can learn to do this. It’s not rocket science; it's habits of mind and habits of work. I started with people much more talented than me, she said, and they’re dead or in jail or not writing. The difference between me and them is that I’m writing.”

How to Write an Autobiography by Alexander Chee

I am going to stay in my lane and keep on creating.


 B Y : B R I T T N E Y   E S P I N O Z A

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