April 22, 2022

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  • Imposter syndrome is something we all go through

As long as I'm in the business of making things other people are actually going to, you know, look at, no voice will ever be quite as vicious as the one that lives inside my own head.

The one telling me I'm not good enough-- that I don't belong here.

The one wondering, aloud, "Who let this guy in?"

The one saying I'm not ready and I never will be.

The one casually suggesting maybe-- maybe-- I should just give up and get out.

Imposter syndrome. It's the great big beast we all must slay over and over… 

Every. Damned. Day.

Anyone who tells you, "Oh no, not me," is either lying or a lunatic. The exact substance of the self-critique might vary some from person to person, and the source of each individual's self-doubt might be a little different, but otherwise this is universal stuff.

Here-- let me tell you a story.

Back when I was just a Wee Little Damien, folks who knew me probably would've told you, with absolute certainty, I was going to make my living drawing one day.

And if you'd plotted some reasonable trajectory for me, based on what had been laid out in front of you, you might've come to the same conclusion, because let me tell you, that wee version of me lived for that end game.

Just how many days would land between that day and one day, however, isn't something anyone would've spotted in any crystal ball.

Somewhere around the middle of my teenage years, I stopped drawing.

I offered many reasons why over the twenty-five-ish years that followed, all probably partly true, but there's something underlying each of the "show" reasons, and it's really the only thing that matters: 

I wasn't ready, or willing, at that point in my life, to put in all the crucial, necessary work to keep progressing, and it only got harder to find my way back as time passed.

Several years ago, I started doodling in my reporters' notepads-- while covering stories, between stories, whenever, wherever, killing time and distracting myself while zombie-wandering my way through a career I'd become very disenchanted with-- and very quickly I rediscovered my childhood happy place.

Flash-forward a few years, and I've dismantled the life that was, to actively pursue the one that should've been.

But there's not a single day that doesn't see me questioning whether I'll stick this landing, or if I'm arse-deep in a midlife crisis.

I'm surrounded by people half my age with twice the experience.

People with art-school degrees and many gigs under their belts.

People who, like me, picked up a pencil when they were two, three, four years old, but, unlike me, never put it down.

For me, making good means making up for a whole lot of lost time-- on my own, frantically filling in gaps before my ship takes on too much water and sinks.

Before my cover's blown and they realize I snuck in through the back.

I don't know who they are, but they are out there, I'm pretty sure, and I'm pretty sure when they find me out, any minute now, they will totally-for-real revoke my official is-allowed-to-doodle-for-dollars card, send me packing and scrub the club free of hack-stink...

Sorry-- my vision might’ve tunneled a little there.

So, now let me tell you the stuff I wish someone would tell me when I get stuck in my own head:

There is no they. We're all just folks, with the same desire to create cool visual stories.

No one's rooting for you to drown-- maybe just trying to make sure you can swim if you're going to get yourself wet.

How, exactly, you stay afloat doesn't matter so much. "Good" and "better than" are arbitrary terms. Be solid, but also be you-- someone, somewhere will dig it, promise.

You're going to create some crap-- just means you took the chance and made the thing. Do it again.

You're free to go do something else for as long as you like-- no one'll stop you. And if you decide to come back two-and-a-half decades later, no one'll stop you then either. This is your life-- just remember, you (presumably) only get the one, and the clock is ticking.

Speaking of, there's a storyboard sequence that's been psyching me out for days. Time to have at it-- it might be cool, or it might be crap, but it's not going to be done until I do.

Cheers,

Damien



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