How To Combat Imposter Syndrome As A Female Filmmaker

And Renew Your Passion For Filmmaking

Sydney has been hit by a bought of Covid-19 cases and this new lockdown has frankly crushed a lot of my motivation. But I would be lying if I said that the lockdown was the only reason my passion for something that has always been a joy of mine has completely disintegrated. Starting a content creation business in the middle of a global pandemic has made all of the beginning a business ups and downs much larger than normal and when everybody seems to be looking for work it makes me question if I can even compete. It’s safe to say the imposter syndrome is hitting pretty hard.

Now, most creatives are probably aware of what imposter syndrome is as Impostor Syndrome Institute co-founder Valerie Young states in an article [1] “being in any creative field makes you more susceptible to impostor feelings than say being an accountant or a dentist.” But for those unaware, imposter syndrome is “when you feel as if you don’t deserve the praise you’re receiving for your work [or] feel like a fraud and that people will soon find out you’re not actually that good at what you do [2].” The publicity and subjective nature of creative work, Young explains in her article, might be to blame for the increased feeling of imposter syndrome in creative people. However a really interesting article by Ruchika Tulshyan and Jodi-Ann Burey on Havard Business Review [3] analyses the role of biases like sexism, xenophobia and the like in generating feelings associated with imposter syndrome. They essentially argue that to be an imposter implies exclusion and thus a need to conform to a particular form of ideals or behaviours associated with an industry or a job in order to be successful.

Confidence is often spoken about as the “antidote” to imposter syndrome. Whilst I would agree that confidence is something that can help move you through life (I even wrote a post a little while ago about my tips for gaining confidence as someone just entering the film industry) it seems to have become higher regarded than skill or knowledge to determine success. So what are you meant to do when you’re not feeling confident?

For the last few months whilst I’ve watched all my work dry up I’ve been feeling the imposter syndrome vibes. Whilst researching competitors online I sank myself deeper into a hole of not feeling good enough and soon I wasn’t just feeling like a fraud but these feelings started to completely eradicate my passion for filmmaking. Honestly, I was freaking out that I’d made a huge life mistake and it was not only impacting my career but my home life as well. So I had to change something. Now not everyone’s situation is the same and some of these tips may be easier to implement than others but I thought I would share what I’ve learned in the chance it helps someone else.

Don’t Think About Work When You’re Not Feeling Your Best

This sounds easier said than done but if you’re in a position like me as a freelancer where you can plan out your days it helps to not focus on important business matters or creative projects on days where you feel awful, and I don’t just mean physically sick. A lot needs to be done in the workforce regarding mental health and sick days but as a freelancer, there is privilege in being able to take a day when you need it.

I’ve made the mistake too many times of trying to plough on with things when I’m not in a great mental state and the only result is that I start to question the quality of my work, my ability to do the job, and whether I’m good enough to continue. For those in full-time jobs, I understand it may not always be possible to just take a day, and even for freelancers sometimes there are deadlines that must be met. Yet we can’t control our minds so take it easy on yourself if you find yourself in a particularly bad place.

Hold Yourself To Your Own Standards

A big part of imposter syndrome is the feeling of not meeting the standards of work of other people doing the same thing as you. Filmmaking nowadays is not as exclusive as it used it be. Everyone can make content. Tik Tok, YouTube, even Instagram provides platforms for anyone and everyone to make and publish content. And whilst the content isn’t necessarily ‘film’ some of the same principles apply. They’re using a camera, editing together captured footage, adding effects and telling a story with the visual aspect of the medium. It does mean that at every turn I’m comparing my work to other people’s.

So to combat this I try and remind myself to only measure what I do against my best work not the work of others. There is always room to grow and where we sit along the path of our journey should never be measured against others. Even if it seems like everyone is making things there will be something about you and what you do that is unique so try and identify that and then keep yourself accountable only to yourself.

Keep A Record Of Praise

This is only something I’ve started doing recently but every time I get a compliment on something I have created I try and make a record of it. Saving email feedback somewhere I can easily re-read it, writing a note on my phone if someone verbally mentions something to me and even dedicating a notebook specifically for happy thoughts and feelings. On the down days where you need to recover taking a look back through some of the positive feedback you’ve received for your work can be a good way of reminding yourself that you are NOT a fraud. People appreciate what you have created and that’s enough.

Overall imposter syndrome is something that exists systemically generated by years of one type of person defining what is considered good and what is considered a success. Creative people are considered more susceptible to imposter syndrome and by extension creative women, but it doesn’t mean we should let that hold us back. By measuring the quality of our work against our own abilities, managing our mental health and taking a break from work when we need to, and reminding ourselves that we have done and are doing good work hopefully those feelings of imposter syndrome will dissipate and the passion for that craft we know deep down we love will return.


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