What am I doing...? I don’t belong here... I’m not nearly as amazing or polished as everyone else around me. I’m not funny, or sexy, or flexible, or anything. Does my style even belong? Do I even have a style? I don’t have business cards... I need a website... I don’t even have a classic/neo routine! Who do I think I am trying to produce or teach? I have nothing special to offer. Nobody will want to learn from me. People will just think I have an ego. Why do these people like me? What do they mean when they say I’m an inspiration to them? Any minute everyone will realize who I truly am and call me out. Why do I even try? People don’t know who I am anyway, and all of this effort is for nothing...
Imposter Syndrome... that feeling of not being “enough” that likes to slink its way into our lives. Telling us that we’re not good enough or we don’t deserve what we’ve earned: we’re a fraud. It’s one of the most common thoughts that plague our minds as performers, despite who we are or how far we’ve come. Why? Why can we not accept that we deserve what we’ve worked so hard for? Why, despite being in a community that embraces all styles and weirdos, do we so often feel like we don’t belong?
I don’t have the answer. But what I can tell you, is that you’re not alone. I have talked with very few performers who do not experience imposter syndrome at times. I go through periods of being afraid all the time. I am often hesitant to act like I know someone in case they don’t remember me and think I’m being weird. I go on and off of being incredibly confident with my art and my impact on our community, and feeling like it’s all fake. Heck, even as I’m writing this post, I wonder if I even know enough about the subject to talk about it. There are often hundreds of thoughts and reasons that go through our minds on a frequent basis of why it all feels too good to be true, and that’s just with burlesque. I’ve been lucky enough to have had many opportunities to talk with a variety of other performers to learn that these are all common feelings. I know that imposter syndrome is only temporary, and I know that I am not alone. But it still exists, and it still takes time and effort to work through it when it comes up.
So how can you work through your imposter syndrome? Honestly, it will depend on the situation and you as a person. I am not an expert on the subject... far from it. But I can tell you what has worked for me is to:
know that you are not alone
Give yourself pep talks: often
Surround yourself with your community, and reach out when needed.
Practice self-care, both self-love/nurturing AND adulting
Focus on grounding yourself and breath
Take moments (or days) to appreciate all that you’ve accomplished. Write any positive notes down in a journal that others have shared with you
Don’t be afraid to take a step back, if needed, to work on yourself. Burlesque will always be there when you are ready to come back
When questioning your abilities for something new or to talk with someone... do it anyway. There may be a few bumps, but you won’t grow if you don’t try.
These are only a few things that have helped me in the past. Some days I don’t get over my emotions and conflicts, and that’s ok too... because this is only a moment of many amazing moments in life. None of us are perfect, and we shouldn’t pretend to be. Basically... know that you are not alone and you are doing amazing.
**For any further reading, here are two articles that I have find helpful from time to time.