“Creative minds have been known to overcome even the worst programming.” — Anna Freud
Does the thought of being creative make you cower, quiver and bring up every self-doubt you’ve ever had?
You’re not alone. Exceptionally talented and gifted people struggle with insecurities and low self-esteem all the time.
Meryl Streep reveals her battle with confidence when she says, “You can have a perfectly horrible day where you doubt your talent ... or that you’re boring and they’re going to find out that you don’t know what you’re doing.”
Will Smith admits, “I still doubt myself every single day. What people believe is my self-confidence is actually my reaction to fear.”
“I have written 11 books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody and they’re going to find me out,’” award-winning author Maya Angelou says.
John Lennon once said, “Part of me suspects that I’m a loser and the other part of me thinks I’m God Almighty.”
These talented artists suffer from the impostor syndrome: “Eventually they’ll find out who I really am.”
Dr. Valerie Young, who developed The Confidence Project, explains how the impostor thinks. “No matter how well they do or how loud the applause, they always think they could have done better or that they just had a ‘good audience.’” There are no boosts in their confidence.
“Somewhere deep inside, you don’t believe what they say,” says Joyce Roche, former CEO of Girls Inc. “You think it’s a matter of time before you stumble and ‘they’ discover the truth.”
But at least these talented “impostors” never let their fears and doubts prevent them from sharing their creativity with the world. But what happens when your fear paralyzes you and keeps you stuck on the sidelines of life while your creativity bites the dust?
If you are a true artist, your heart shudders, your soul shivers and you carry the feeling of “not enough” into everything you do. You try to fill the horrendous hole in your life with relationships, food, alcohol, material things. But nothing works. Gifts and talents that go unused can cause depression, addiction and disease. “Less than” becomes your mantra.
A talented friend of mine was asked by her shrink to make the ugliest, most imperfect picture she could. The clock ticked away as her perfectionism dug in. As he tapped his feet and patiently waited, these thoughts went through her head. “What if I don’t do it perfectly?” “What if it’s not ugly enough?”
Creativity asks that you let go of control, which is the powerful fuel that runs the ego. Another friend of mine created a soulful bust of an elderly man. It was absolutely exquisite and no one was more surprised by its beauty, strength and tenderness than she. Yet, she walked away never again to feel the cool clay between her fingers — fearing the next creation would not measure up to the first.
Ego, perfectionism, fears, doubts, judgments — looking for your truth in all the wrong places. And what is your truth?
I believe it reveals itself through your ability to receive and internalize as self-worth. To hear and acknowledge the applause for a job well done. To feel good about the effort put forth — not the end result. To feel the joy and gratitude in the ability to use your creativity. To have the courage to show up for it every single day of your life.
To fall to your knees in its presence.