Like most professional musicians, I have endured and persisted with a lifelong education and dedication to musical training from a young age. I have pursued all avenues that were financially and physically available to me and every day of my musical life I have either played, practiced, produced, studied or composed music.
So why do I have such a difficult time referring to myself as professional musician? How is it possible that me and some of my close friends who are very skilled musicians also feel they are not at the standard they need to be, in order to fill the roles they are currently filling?
4 years ago, my partner (who thankfully for me, has a bachelor of science) explained to me the symptoms and traits of someone with imposter syndrome. Do not be alarmed fellow readers, we have not taken the plunge into the ever present world of darkness and depression, but simply glaze over a symptom that many creatives experience.
Imposter syndrome is in no way a mental illness or disease and is not to be confused with a thing that can be diagnosed, which is why it is referred to as a phenomena.
Someone experiencing imposter syndrome is in a ‘psychological pattern’ of doubting their own achievements and has an insisting fear of being exposed as a fraud, even when external factors prove them otherwise.
It is most commonly found in women, and even more so in women of colour.
While I’m certain there are a ridiculous number of factors contributing to my imposter syndrome I feel the most resonance from my own reflection. Being the first individual in my family to successfully complete high school, receive a Bachelor’s Degree and live my life as a full time musician, feels so unlikely that it appears unrealistic.
There are many projects I find myself on where I am so completely overwhelmed with it that I believe the fraud to be true and have an episode of utter despair.
It can be incredibly debilitating and nauseating having the constant doubt and fear of being exposed as a fake musician that it can almost be unbearable.
Though I know, being in the industry this long that I am not the only one who feels this way. Putting aside the hardcore mental illness stuff, let’s just reflect on this self-fraudulent phenomena.
Why are we, at a personal level, experiencing these symptoms? Are there external factors we could amend to suspend the persistent fear? Is there a positive spin on this syndrome? And how do you cope with the doubt at the end of the day?
I invite you to converse with me in the comments below.