When You Legit Don’t Feel Like An Artist

…either every day, or you’re an impostor!

These are words I’ve said to myself, in my head and out loud, more times than Father Abraham had sons- of which I am one.

It just never felt right to call myself an artist, especially because I didn’t attend art school nor have I turned my garage into Picasso-ville. I have no disciplined “medium” (except for this writing platform), and I don’t understand a word of artist lingo regarding “the narrative of the landscape is ever-evolving when we seek to express from a place of authenticity rather than submit ourselves to the prisons of vintage perspectives”.

But I do build things, in my head!

I do write things, thoughts and ideas on iPhone 7+ size pieces of recycled paper, or anything else close-by.

I imagine perfectly arranged worlds of expression of what I feel, think, and see!

And yet, I don’t see myself as an artist. Because I’ve been fed an idea of what it means to be an artist; that there’s a certain personality type; a certain way of life, that qualifies you to be an artist.

And I don’t fit that mould…at least that’s what I thought.

Impostor Syndrome

Until just the other day, I have never heard of the term “impostor syndrome”- that constant, nagging feeling that you don’t deserve to occupy the space you’re in; that you are a fraud, a failure, an impostor!

Apparently, it happens to everyone- not just “artists”, and sometimes it’s just disguised fear or selling yourself short. But most of the times, it’s real, and scary, and damaging for your well-being and the work you create. (Even as I type this, I’m thinking, “you have no write to speak into this”, regardless of the fact that I have the right to write into what I feel).

Story-telling

I’ve always loved stories.

I remember my mom just went with me to the library the day I signed up, but I went back every week, religiously, all by myself. I devoured books way ahead of my age. I would retell those stories to my friends in ways and language they were able to get- from Cry, The Beloved Country to July’s People.

I began to write my own versions of what I saw and felt growing up in Apartheid South Africa; I began to write poetry and songs; I began to dream of one day being a writer.

And then prison happened. But the writing, and the dreaming, and the poetry didn’t stop, for a whole five years; they just kept flowing.

I kept writing; I kept searching for what I felt, and gave language to it. And people started listening, and commenting, and thought I should write more.

And yet, I still did not consider myself a writer, or an “artist”, because I feel like a fraud. But mostly because I felt like I needed the validation of outside influences to approve me as a writer.

But I’m quitting all that…the “impostor syndrome” that is.

I am an artist.

And I will be scared when I need to “prove” it to the people that truly matter.

But who cares.

I’m here now, writing.

And that’s all that should count!

(What do you think? Do i need to get over myself, haha. Or do you sometimes also feel like the impostor in the room?)

**Don’t forget to hit the green heart if you’ve enjoyed the read.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Ivor Swartz’s story.