No matter how popular, successful, established a creative is there is always room for self-doubt. I’ve met several influential creatives, folks I admire and respect across the field, and it surprises me each and every time to hear them express any self-doubt.
I mean, isn’t part of the reason they’ve climbed the ranks in their profession due to the fact that they are so darn confident in themselves and their vision? Yes, talent and perseverance are important, but often it’s sheer guts and belief in yourself that convinces others that you and your work are something worthwhile. Call it bravado!
And yet time after time I hear esteemed creatives say,
Oh no, now they’ll discover I’m a fraud.
Maybe I’m just not good enough.
I’ve never felt so insecure in my practice until…
What the hell am I doing with my life?!
And these people are your favorite musicians, writers and artists whose work you pay to hear, read, and see!
So is this normal? Do all creatives feel this no matter where they are in their career? Is there a way to avoid all these uncomfortable feelings of self-doubt and simply bask in your unending triumphant genius?
Yes, this is normal. Yes, all creatives feel this at some point or another. No, I don’t think there is a way to avoid this.
I think that sinking feeling of doubt, those questions of
Am I doing the right thing?
Am I on the right path?
will arise again and again throughout your career.
On the bright side there is a healthy way to respond to these uneasy thoughts… or words if we say them aloud (to me). And that’s remembering why you are committed to whatever you do. Not why you were committed when you first started, but why you are passionate about your creative work right NOW.
Despite your fears, anxieties, the pressure, taboos, lack of support/fame, doubts, would you still walk into your studio, corner, garage, nook, office–wherever you create–and continue to make something? In other words, if all your doubts were true–you’re a fraud, you suck, nobody likes your work, and you may in fact be wasting your time–would you still pick up your tools and create something?
If your answer is yes, you have true passion for your work, and all your doubting is just a reminder that you love what you do. And if you love what you do, I don’t know how you could be any more successful than that.
What the hell are you doing with your life? Do you love what you do? How do you know?