Hello, for those of you who don’t know me, I’m Becca. I’m a harp player who works with two wonderful projects: Tannara and HEISK.
When I was originally asked to contribute to this blog I was initially delighted. However, I started to think: honestly? me? Why would anybody want to read what I’ve written? I surely don’t have any experiences that would be deemed blogworthy. So, after talking to a few pals I realised that this reaction should probably form the basis of what I’m going to talk about today.
I’m aware that Innes Watson wrote a fantastic blog about mental health last month. Therefore, I originally felt that I should move away from this theme. However, after a bit of deliberation I thought, why not? Let’s carry on the conversation, surely the more experiences shared in this area the better.
I deal with mental health issues on a daily basis. I don’t really talk about it with my close pals and I don’t really know why. This means that writing this blog here feels like quite a big thing for me. (I’m even second guessing myself as I type.)
I’d like to talk about one aspect that I feel affects my mental health and that is Imposter Syndrome. I didn’t really understand what Imposter Syndrome was until recently when I was working with a group of young people. The context of this work was to discuss the main barriers facing young people (especially those from marginalised backgrounds) when trying to pursue a career or education in the arts. A lot of what these young people spoke about was how they felt unworthy, incapable or just not the right person to pursue a pathway in the performing arts or accept any opportunities that came their way.
Whilst feeling terribly frustrated for them that they felt this way I was also incredibly impressed that they could identify this in themselves. I suddenly understood that Imposter Syndrome was something that could affect people no matter what stage they are at in life or what success they had achieved. Success was relative to an individual’s own achievements. This was a complete light bulb moment for me; it chimed with so many moments in my life, both social and professional. I have definitely turned down work and not pursued opportunities all simply because I didn’t think I was good enough.
The thing is, I now know that I’m not alone. People are affected by Imposter Syndrome in all walks of life and I know it’s a huge thing for those working in our industry, especially as our social and professional lives overlap so much. I think this is because we spend so much time in this conflicted environment where we hear the opinions and judgements of others and can’t help but apply them to our own ability and wonder, is that what people think of me?
Perhaps I just need to grow a thicker skin or learn to tune out at times, but at the end of the day it still affects me. I walk into situations and ask myself, do I deserve to be here? Have I worked hard enough for this opportunity? Would someone else do a better job of this than me?
The best solution to this problem that I have found has been to create a platform for myself, one in which I feel supported and encouraged to grow in and most importantly comfortable to share my thoughts and feelings. This came around from setting up the band HEISK. This has definitely been one of the best things I have done for my mental health and my feelings associated with Imposter Syndrome. It is a space in which I feel I am represented and empowered; it has been an incredible coping mechanism.
I would encourage anyone who feels that they’ve recognised something I’ve said today in themselves to find a space that will provide them with empowerment and confidence. The difference I see in myself after finding the space to shed my anxieties is night and day.
Good luck folks, this is an awesome industry we work in; it can be tough sometimes but you just need to find a coping mechanism that works for you.
Photo by Somhairle MacDonald