May 13, 2015
I don't know about you, but something I struggle with on a damn near daily basis as an artist is the feeling of inadequacy, or the ever-present sense that I'm nothing but a failure. A washout. Some days, I feel like a has-been; most, I feel more like a never-was. I get discouraged fairly often. I'm prone to the belief that nothing I write has any worth, and that I'm not really contributing anything necessary to the universe at large.
I've written about Imposter Syndrome before - the idea that no matter how accomplished you are in reality, your brain will still sometimes find ways to convince you that you're not "enough," that you're just a fraud, and that sooner or later The World At Large will find you out and expose you as the sham that you are. I legitimately thought for years that I was the only one who felt that way. What a gift, to learn that it is actually a recognized condition, that almost all people who live somewhere on the creative spectrum experience it, and many times frequently.
Today, I read this column by Andrew WK; it's his answer to the question "how do I become a successful musician?" As I read, I replaced the word "musician" with "poet" and realized I needed so very badly to read this.
- The idea that making money is the best indication of success is fundamentally flawed. Far too often the individuals who make the most money are the biggest failures in every other area of life, most notably those related to personal integrity, kindhearted values, and quality of character. Many people think that achieving material success is worth total sacrifice in every other part of their life — but it couldn't be further from the truth. Success in one area of life should enable further and more meaningful success in all the other areas, too. Success materially and failure spiritually is no success at all.
I could honestly quote this entire article...there are just that many paragraphs that hit me like a gut punch in the most necessary way. Here is a link to the whole thing. If you've been wondering, like I so often do, whether or not you're a success as an artist, perhaps it will clear up a thing or two.