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  • Writer's pictureNaomi Koji-Paton

Conquering Imposter Syndrome in the Creative Industry as a Photographer

Woman sitting on a bench smiling at the camera

I don't care who you are, this isn't something you can run away from or be immune to. If you are a creative person, best believe, imposter syndrome hits you at some point! Whether you're just starting out or reaching for new heights in your career, those nagging feelings of inadequacy can overshadow your achievements and stifle your creativity. But it's not all doom and gloom, I promise. This article will look at actionable strategies and personal insights to combat the imposter gremlins!


Understanding Imposter Syndrome:

A gremlin looking creature looking angry but is actually quite cute

I always imagine mine as little gremlins like the one above. Cute little bite sized angry furbys (90s children stand up!) - probably what I look like when I'm hungry and tired 😂.


I've done a lot of personal development in order to view them as this, i.e., small pests. But the reality is, they are a reflection of the negative view(s) you have of yourself. I know I seem like I'm positive and bubbly all the time, but that doesn't mean I don't face my own demons. And this is the whole point of this article.


Normally these gremlins, we'll call him Fred for the the time being, express themselves as a nagging feelings of not being good enough, success is for everyone else but you, people will see how much of a fraud you are, you're not worthy of good/nice things to happen to you etc etc. Am I speaking to anyone here? 🙋🙋‍♂️


First of all, you are NOT alone in this. Like I said, as creatives, we ALL face this one way or another. And, get this, you DON'T have to listen to Fred! The problem is, we listen to him because he reflects what we think of ourselves deep down. And it's super easy to keep going with the flow but it requires EFFORT to break that attachment.


So how do we break the imposter syndrome attachment?

Good question! Firstly, let's acknowledge Fred, or whatever your version of your gremlin is. (Side note, please add in the comments how you visualise yours, super helpful way to acknowledge them plus I'm super interested to know!)


Close your eyes, be still and quiet and just use your imagination - you're a creative after all! Think about the types of things your gremlin says, how it's said, how it makes you feel and use your mind to visualise who or what it is. Mine is blueish green and normally sits around my left shoulder. (Mad I know! And over the years he's shrunk too!!)



Start to then tap into why the gremlin says what he says. Normally, you'll discover that it's simply a part of you when you was younger that was trying to protect you from negative results, or you believed in negative things about you due to your circumstances. I am majorly simplifying years of therapy here so I hope it makes some sense in a very broad way. Once you start to realise that Fred isn't really as bad as he seems, the weight of the feelings start to become manageable. Also, logically you'll know as intelligent human beings that what Fred tells you, isn't true. (Obvs you have to build up your self-esteem too - I'll come onto that bit soon!)


Acknowledging Fred's existence is the first mayor step to breaking his hold on you. And sneak peak - Fred never goes away, BUT you learn to be friends and you learn to put him on mute.


Keeping imposter syndrome at bay:

This is where the work now needs to be done. For me, the best thing has been reciting, writing and listening to positive affirmations. Things like:


I am skilled and talented in my unique way

I trust in my artistic vision

I am worthy of success and recognition for my creative endeavours

I embrace my mistakes as valuable lessons on my creative journey

I am deserving of all the opportunities that come my way

I am constantly evolving and improving as an artist

I am not defined by my doubts or fears

I am surrounded by a supportive community that believes in my talents

I release the need for perfection and embrace the beauty of imperfection

I am enough, I have always been enough and always will be enough


There was a phase in my life when I literally had things like the above plastered all around my house, on my wardrobes, on my ceiling, in my bathroom, my car dashboard etc. Now, I'm not so eccentric but I needed to do what I needed to do back then.


This process takes time, remember we're battling with YEARS of these negative thoughts that we've believed wholeheartedly since we were kids.


I also make sure I keep company with decent human beings who do see my value and worth and use them as sound boards of sense when I need a kick up the bum! lol And listening to motivational podcasts or youtube videos are also a great way to be inspired and feed the good stuff. Remember this is the hard work, there will be times when you don't want to, when you want to slink back into negative thinking, but it's at those times that this stuff means something.


Embrace the journey with Fred!

Image of a girl holding up a flower to a demon who is smelling it

Remember to celebrate the good times, and really celebrate them. No doubt you've worked hard to get there. And when the bad times come, because they will come, remember they are just part of life! Run your own race, learn from mistakes, grow and be better.


If you need to seek professional support, then please do. I've had my own fair share of it and I 100% recommend it, and not just your aunt so n so or friend down the road.


Find someone you admire in your profession you can ask questions or learn from, there are loads of them out there. If one doesn't want to or have the time to help then find someone else. Most people are willing to help and answer questions. What you will find is you're not alone. And focusing on growth rather than perfection is the goal. NONE of us are perfect. We can also do extra brush strokes, stay a little longer for the right shot, edit a few more hours....perfection doesn't exist! Stop letting Fred control your creativity and simply BE!


True, we can always do better. My business coach once compared me to a Ferrari. He said, "KP, you're always so fast, wanting to get from A to B in a hurry thinking that the end destination is what matters and that you reached your 'goal', but it's in the journey, the passing from A to B where the success really is. Slow down and enjoy the journey, you're going to get there, but it's the time you get there, the memories, the people you meet on the way, the lessons learned etc that make the end result all the more sweeter." And you know what, he's so right!


I now see Fred as my anxious little brother who is actually afraid of what I could become and, in his own special way, tries to pull me back as a protective method. I've now come to learn that, when Fred starts to make an appearance, it's usually a good time for me to push forward regardless on how I feel. And sometimes I get it right, and sometimes I don't but I'd rather ask for forgiveness than have regrets!


I hope this helps and I encourage you to keep striving forward and live life to the fullest in the way you know best!


You got this! 💪

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4 Comments


Jill Golledge
Jill Golledge
Apr 15

Great blog Naomi! Mine is called Jeff! He shows up every now and again and I'm getting much better at telling him to jog on!

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Janet Efere
Janet Efere
Apr 15

When I discovered that even Sir Anthony Hopkins has imposter syndrome, then that actually helped. It looks like most of us, to some degree, have it (and it's definitely not limited to the world of creatives) and sometimes just knowing that is enough to make it go away. Super blog Naomi!

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claire
Apr 04

Wow, that’s a very thorough explanation & really well expressed & presented…

For me, it’s a lot to do with the inner child so compassion is key!

Here to support anyone who is at that point…


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Drobson90
Apr 04

I also have my own little “Fred”. I also have “Freda” too!


For me, it stems back to being a child and unfortunately it sticks with you.


Getting help from your “circle” makes a world of difference and I wouldn’t be who I am today without strong, encouraging and caring people who are now around me.


Great blog KP


Dave

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