Finally, I went to one of my most favorite author/photographers, David DuChemin, and his book, The Problem With Muses: Notes on Everyday Creativity. I just knew that he would have a lot to share on doubts and fears, imposter syndrome (again), comparisons and more – all part of living and seeking and struggling with the creative life. As to fear, David says,
“We are all afraid of something. But far is not who we fear; fear is only a voice. We can listen to it, we can learn from it, we can let it point us in the direction of important (read: scary) work. But we need not obey it.
Digging a bit further into the Imposter Syndrome, David sees it as a “symptom of comparing yourself to others” and “measuring our insides against their outsides. And while we may feel like we’re “faking” being real artists or photographers, we’re not alone as we’re all learning as we go. Regardless, the message is that we just need to be who we are, “flaws and all” and “make your art anyway.
Above all, our job as an artist is to be ourselves. I love that David talks about those who feel that being an “amateur” means they aren’t “real artists.” He reminds us that the word means “to do something for the love of it.” Amen, again. I understand this very unfair (and wrong) perception. I remember how it took me a long time to be able to call myself a photographer instead of saying that I like to take pictures. Somehow, I felt that I didn’t know enough and (oh boy) wasn’t “good enough” to claim that title. At this point in my life, yes, I am a photographer and artist. I am also an amateur – a proud one. Whether or not I continue as a professional, I love to photograph for the love of it. It is my soul feeder, and that will never stop. Either way, it still takes work and there’s always more to learn and do.
Because we’re human (not because we are artists), doubt, especially self-doubt, is familiar. We can feed ourselves with negative views on what we believe we cannot do or be, and we will be right if we eat that food. We can allow doubt to stop us in our tracks or we can look at it differently. “Doubt used well,” says David, “is not just a lack of belief, but a trigger to exploration . . . [It] can be used to keep us from our best work, or to push us deeper into exploring that work.”