When we all feel like creative imposters

I occasionally wonder why I never have had the full ability to recognize my own ideas and label them as creatively “good.”

More often than not, it takes someone else commenting on my idea to point out how unique and valuable it is. And the result of this is that I simply don’t feel like a creative person the majority of the time.

Actually, I feel like an imposter, someone who is swimming through the world of creativity and writing about it and thinking about it, but not actually doing anything with it. I feel like this every day.

But then someone will message me, or pull me aside at the office, or comment over lunch or dinner, about how creative they think I am. They tell me about something I’ve done and how original and helpful it was. They point to a piece of my writing or my work and show me where the uniqueness is, where the value is in plain sight for them.

In these moments I do feel creative, and it feels good. For a brief minute I am reminded that I am not so much the imposter it feels as though I am.

So why can’t I see that creativity in myself all the time? Why do we often feel like imposters when it comes to evaluating our own ideas?

I think one reason is simply because we are each in a state of continuous growth. When we do have a novel idea, we might initially react to it with keen awareness, but over time that type of idea becomes our norm.

We adjust our expectations of ourselves in the same manner we adjust our capabilities as we learn and grow. So our notion of what it means to be someone who is creative evolves as we progressively do more and more creative work. As we grow our creative “bar” gets set higher and higher, so not only do we fail to notice our new nature of thought and capabilities, but we feel as though we’re continiously missing the mark. We compare ourselves to those we look up to, those we work alongside, and their creativity feels boundless. But what we fail to see is our own growth, and how outter comparisons are not precise or entirely accurate.

Maybe we all feel like creative imposters because our idea of normal is really everyone else’s idea of creative.

We should step back occasionally to reflect on our creative growth. Sometimes that means looking at your past work to see just how far you’ve come, other times it’s asking for feedback or perspective from those in your life who aren’t involved with your work.