You are an imposter
Who are you?!
You are an imposter.
This is how Pete’s ‘How to Hack the SCA’ workshop commenced. And what triggered my latest existential crisis.
In the months leading up to the beginning of my time at the SCA, Imposter Syndrome was certainly something I knew I’d need to try shaking… or maybe, just maybe, worth embracing.
As someone who suffers with a bit of social anxiety and low self-esteem, Pete’s workshop spoke to my critical inner voice. Here is the conversation that was happening in my mind throughout the session:
PETE: LEARN WHAT TO LISTEN TO, ABOUT WHAT AND WHEN
INNER VOICE: Every opinion surely matters… no? Everyone must be absolutely in awe of my outcome… otherwise it is a failure. I am seeking success and success is being admired by people and making truly admirable work.
IMI 2.0: Inner voice, you’re so egotistical. You’re also not considering how impractical and quite frankly exhausting it would be to take stock of EVERYONE’S opinions and seek total validation. If you’re to improve on your SCA journey, you’re going to need to prepare to be told your work is ‘doomed to failure’ (as Richard will inevitably go on to say a few days after Pete’s workshop, the night before an important deadline, but you don’t know that yet, technically). Grow a thick skin, know that you absolutely cannot please everyone, and trust your intuition.
PETE: CRITICISM IS A FORM OF CARING
INNER VOICE: Hmm… yeah right. Like I was saying before, surely to be successful everyone should be absolutely in love with the work. I need to be making perfect work. Zero criticisms. Criticism implies that I am lazy, incompetent, not good enough for the course or to ever thrive as a creative in any capacity. I am a-
IMI 2.0: Ok, ok. Calm down. Criticisms can be disheartening… but there will be a lot of them. You already are more resilient than you could ever really know. Recognising the benefits of criticism will make you even more resilient. Actively listening to criticism, recognising where you need to improve and not being disheartened by it is the way forward. It’s something you’ll need to get used to. It’s time to discard the people-pleasing mentality and prepare for your work to be slaughtered sometimes. Kill your babies. Criticism is not necessarily anything to do with you. Remember, criticism should only be treated objectively not as a personal attack.
PETE: DON’T AVOID THE OBVIOUS!
INNER CRITIC: Yeah but the obvious is boring, unoriginal, uninspiring.
IMI 2.0: Maybe. But isn’t there a beauty to that? It’s all about tapping into universal human truths with creative work, recognising the primal motivations behind every consumer. Producing work which seems obvious or simple is likely to resonate with more people. It’s like when you purposely overplucked your eyebrows to oblivion when you were 15 to be different and cool and edgy, but people thought you had a mental breakdown and didn’t want to talk to you.
PETE: THE SECRET TO BEING A GREAT CREATIVE = LISTENING.
INNER CRITIC: Yeah, yeah. I listen. I listen hard. Sometimes people say things I don’t agree with. Sometimes I say things that get twisted or even ignored.
IMI 2.0: Listen harder. You’re quite a big talker. You like to fill awkward silences that might otherwise be a moment of deep contemplation or a eureka moment. Listening, especially when it comes to briefs, will allow the ideas to find you faster, because you will have picked up on details that any preoccupied mind wouldn’t register. Focus on insights, thoughts, feelings, the core of the problem and all the idiosyncrasies that make us human.
Imi 2.0 has shut the inner critic down… for now.
Referring to Pete’s session as a ‘workshop’ makes me cringe a little, because it really ended up playing out as a conversation. As our day of sharing Reflections approached, and I found myself awake at 2am on the day, I wearily reflected on being an imposter. I return to how Pete began his conversation with us:
Who are you?!
You are an imposter.
And somehow, at 2am, I found that my egotistical inner critic voice had gone to sleep quite a bit earlier. I’d detached myself from the terrible stigma of being an imposter and found a way to embrace it:
I am Imogen Daphne Knight. I am… IDK. I don’t know.
I am an imposter. Or you could say Imiposter. Har-har.
Wouldn’t so much time and energy be saved if we started recognising ourselves within the problem? If we started addressing that we might be a problem. Or… that we might just be being human. Maybe that’s worth celebrating. With this mentality, I produced this GIF at about 2.15am and presented it to the class that same day:
The objective conclusion to any creative problem may be shifting a line of copy, doing a cheeky bit of kerning, or ensuring the image is in a bloody vector format… But, when you take a moment to distance yourself from all of that, whether that be in the confines of your bedroom or somewhere lost in the great expanse of planet Earth, isn’t it worth remembering what makes you simultaneously fascinating and completely ordinary?
No one knows. No one knows how we all got here. Alive and living. Communicating.
You are an imposter, as are we all.