A Creative Pep Talk: How to Kick That Impostor Feeling to The Curb
“Fake it ‘til you make it” — or so the saying goes. No matter your career, we’re willing to bet that at some point in your life you felt like an impostor. Have you ever felt like you don’t have the authority or talent to do what you do? This is more common than you think.
An estimated 70 percent of people experience this crisis at some point in their lives and, unfortunately, it’s not something that lessens with age, maturity, or success.
“I think impostor syndrome is really common — and it doesn’t really go away once you reach level one of success because that ladder is neverending. The most helpful thing I’ve found personally is to look at how I’m framing things,” says Jenny Ballif AKA Science Mom, who funds science demonstrations for elementary school students in Nevada through her Patreon page.
Reframe the goals behind your project
Ballif explains that when she thinks about her primary creative goal as something that means a lot to her instead of focusing on the selling aspect, it helps “reduce feelings of insecurity and inadequacy” as there’s a greater purpose behind the project than money.
“I can’t control other people’s wallets or their opinions,” she says.
“It’s something I have to consciously reach for because the natural pull of my business efforts is to trend toward the ‘other people’s tastes and interests’ priority.”
While it’s important to consider those factors when thinking about your target audience, she says that her priority is to continue to get joy from the work that she does and every so often checks herself to see if she likes it.
“It’s important to consider those questions and perspectives, but if that goal supersedes my own creative interests, then I usually end up feeling fairly crummy and inadequate,” she says.
Think about the big picture
As creative people, we often have a hard time celebrating our successes and recognizing that our hard work and accomplishments are more than just luck. Comparison usually makes the feeling of being fraud worse. Creator Dekilah experiences this as she often compares herself with other creators on Patreon and their level of success.
“Sometimes I wonder why anyone would want to support me because I feel like I’m pretty boring, both in how I look (relevant because I’m basically a model as part of my being a creator) and in my personality,” shares creator Dekilah. Her 18+ only Patreon page promotes her sensual art — a mixture of exclusive photoshoots and videos.
She says that she often feels like “just a woman who takes artsy photos of herself nude and in pretty lingerie and who tries to amuse her Patrons with totally random vlogs and the like.” But she was reminded of how her creative work connects with her audience when she received an encouraging comment in one of her videos.
“The comment was something to the effect of ‘every video from you is like a little vacation.’ I almost cried,” she says. “That is exactly what I want my posts, videos, and Patreon community to be! I want it to be an escape from stress. I felt such a renewed sense of purpose just from knowing at least one person got what I was hoping (they would) from my creativity.”
Personally connecting with your patrons is a great way to see how your creative work impacts their lives and it can help you see the big picture of why your work is valuable.
Give yourself a pep talk
Putting your soul into every project you create can lead you to take things like normal patron churn personally instead of objectively. It’s important to remember your audience is here for your talent and the creative projects you continue to make.
Songwriter Nate Maingard is a troubadour who creates music and poetry through Patreon. He often has feelings of insecurity around his audience — as if he’s an impostor and everyone will catch on, he says. “Every song I write feels like the last one I ever will. Every patron leaving (a normal thing) make me feel like it’s the beginning of the end.”Our biggest critics are often ourselves, right?
If you have constant impostor feelings similar to Nate’s, the best way to give yourself a pep talk is to look back at your body of work. Whether it’s encouragement from fans or your own content, seeing how much you’ve accomplished so far can give you just the right boost to keep creating and find new inspiration.
Seriously, never underestimate the power of a pep talk. Reach out to friends in the same industry as you or other members of Patreon’s community to support each other and try to put something actionable behind every concern you have. Make sure to add something more to your conversations than just, ‘you got this!’
You’re the expert
Nekomata started creating her comics as a hobby, both writing and drawing her concepts. She sees flaws on her anatomy drawings or writing or hears comments about her work often thinking she’s not “an expert artist.” But she says that working toward seeing herself as an expert helps overcome that inner critic.
“Patrons often say how much they love my work and the characters that are telling the story,” says Patreon creator Nekomata, who shares her progress on her comic, “Pokemon: Rising Shadows,” from sketches to wallpapers, with her patrons.
“But I realized that it doesn’t matter if I think my work isn’t worth paying for. It matters that I do it because I enjoy it. Because at the end of the day, the average audience member doesn’t know the do’s and dont’s of the creative process.”
Nekomata also realized that most people don’t see the flaws, but “the effort and work put into your work and enjoy it for what it is” and she uses those flaws as a way to challenge her creative process and deliverables. “As a creator, you will always challenge your own work. We are always focused on the flaws and mistakes we make — even the little ones. It’s a habit we form because we must in order to improve our work.”
“It’s easy to feel like impostor when people are paying you for your silly little -enter creation here- but it’s the patrons way of saying that they appreciate you and what you do — flaws and all — because they see potential and greatness in you that you yourself cannot see,” says Nekomata.Conclusion: You’re awesome. You may not believe us and that’s okay. We are all working on gaining the confidence to expect compensation for our creative work, believe in our worth, and grow as expert creators. Celebrate every win — even if it’s a tiny one.
“Those people who are paying you to do what you enjoy? They’re supporting you because they genuinely enjoy what you do and want to see you succeed,” says Nekomata.