My Struggle With Impostor Syndrome
I don't want to sound dramatic, but I seriously struggle with self confidence. I've struggled with something for a long time that I think a lot of people struggle with, but might not realise that they do. It's called "Imposter Syndrome." Essentially, it describes a state of mind where high-achieving people suffer from an inability to internalise their personal accomplishments, and have a constant fear of being "found out as a fraud." I'd never heard of this until two or three years ago, but the moment I did, it really hit home. I have a massive problem with this.
So much so, that just writing the above words "high-achieving people" made me shudder because I don't see myself as high-achieving at all. I know that other people might, but I well and truly don't. And I think that's a big problem that I need to sort out for myself. It's really hard to believe in yourself; I mean, well and truly believe in yourself. There are so many things that I want to do, or feel like I should already have done/be doing. I'm fully aware that I'm my own worst enemy, and there are days when the voice in my head is not as bad as others.
"So what the heck has impostor syndrome got to do with these images, Olivia?" I hear you say. Well, a lot, really. When I was starting out to experiment with photography, I used myself as my subject. Mainly because I wanted to take photos of people, and didn't have any models to photograph yet (or I was too shy to ask), but also because I didn't think that I was good enough to take photos of other people. Granted, at 15, I probably wasn't, so I photographed myself, and I learnt. But now, 8 years later, and after having passed a Bachelor degree in Fashion Photography with a First, I still worry that I can't do it, or that when I do go and do it, someone will realise that I'm not ACTUALLY a good photographer. They'll call me out, tell me that I'm crap, and I'll never shoot again.
Obviously, that would never happen, because no one is that cruel and horrible (at least I hope not!) but I also know that a lot of people think I'm a good photographer...especially because people ask me not only to take their portraits, but also photograph their lookbooks for their brands. So why, if other people think I'm good, can I not? It's a horrible state of mind to be in! It's also a state of mind that, I believe, helped lead me into such a long period of time where picking up a camera made me feel ill. There are other aspects linked to this, that I won't go into now because I don't feel ready to discuss them yet, but without a doubt, the fact that I felt like such an imposter lead to me stopping.
So why am I suddenly feeling so inspired and excited to shoot again? Well, I'm not 100% sure. Part of me thinks that I'm finally healed from getting so sick a few years ago. Another is that I've been very inspired by work I've seen lately, not only work being sent to me through Atlas, but just reading blogs, researching photographers, and really thinking about what it is that I want to shoot. I'm drawn to things with a romance behind them, that tell a beautiful story, are soft and feminine. And that shouldn't really surprise me; since I was little I've always wanted hair down to my bum, had a love for long, flowing couture dresses, and been drawn to stories full of romance (I am not afraid to admit that my favourite story ever is Romeo & Juliet -- I know the whole play basically by heart -- and I'm also "Notebook" fan... guilty!). I also believe that starting this blog has helped me to build my confidence. I've never really put myself out there so much before, or opened myself up so much, and it's a bit daunting to say the least! But more than anything, I've found that sharing my thoughts with other people has made me see that I'm not so abnormal. It's empowering, and really exciting.
So where am I taking my photography next? I'm not really sure to be honest. First of all, I just want to shoot. I want to shoot images I love, images that get me excited, images I feel passionate about. Lately, I've been feeling inspired by something that I've always felt inspired by, but I think I forgot about/lost on the way: bohemian lifestyles. Probably because I grew up spending most of my summers on the island of Ibiza, I have always adored bohemian fashion. The vibrant colours, florals, patterns, jewellery; all of it has always inspired me. So I fully intend on drawing further inspiration from that. But also, and this is VERY new to me, is weddings.
I've never been a girl to dream about her wedding day. I've never really thought about it. I have no idea what dress I want, no idea what my ring will look like, and not much of an idea of the sort of ceremony I would want. It's just something that had never preoccupied me. But recently, as I've been doing so much research and just looking at imagery, I've found myself more and more drawn to images involving wedding dresses. Now, this isn't actually crazy, because think about it: I love anything pretty, romantic, soft and princess like. I've always known that; so why didn't it occur to me that I might enjoy shooting bridal-wear? I have no idea. I was probably preoccupied with other things. But it's been a bit of a revelation to me, and if you check out my Pinterest, you'll see that I've gone a bit crazy creating inspiration boards for myself!
I haven't shot anything bridal yet. I'm waiting for the spring (I think), but also, I'm still trying to pluck up the courage to do it. I live in "wedding land" (Cornwall), where there are thousands of incredibly talented wedding photographers who shoot not only wedding days, but also beautiful wedding editorial. And I'm about to try and get involved in that too? It's a scary thing embarking down a road you have no idea about. I don't really know anyone, I don't know much about weddings, and here we go again: am I good enough?
All I know is, I went back to 15 year old me the other day, with an idea in my head of what I wanted to create editorially, and I snapped some pictures, and I loved the result. The fact that I'm sharing these images of myself, that I'm proud of them, that I feel like I've drawn inspiration from what I've been looking at recently, and trying to make it my own, makes me very, very excited. Who knows what will happen next!