Confidence as a Musician and feelings of imposter syndrome
Confidence- something I would say is very fickle. One day you have it in bucket loads and the next you really couldn’t have any less. As someone who aspires to spend their life performing, it is something I have to deal with on a regular basis. One day I believe in myself, and the next I think that I should’ve listened to my parents and become a doctor. Especially after the chaotic year we’ve all had, it’s normal to feel down on some days and not want to practice or work on your composition. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel.
I personally have had many times where I feel like I do not deserve the things I have achieved. One achievement particularly stands out, and that is when I won my local music school’s highest accolade for string players. Words can't describe how far my jaw dropped. I had already formed a list of people who I thought would win but my name was definitely not on there. I just couldn’t understand why they had picked me. Previous winners of this accolade had been role models to me growing up and it just didn’t register in my head that other people saw me as one too. Initially, after the shock had worn down, I felt slightly sad as I felt I had been awarded something I didn’t deserve. I went into this spiral of putting myself down and refusing to believe anyone who told me otherwise. The reason I am going into detail about this experience of mine is that I know for a fact that there are other musicians who feel the same.
Now I have a lot more confidence in myself as a musician, but it took a very long time to edit the facts I thought of myself in my head. Yes I am not Maxim Vengerov, but I have the talent and work ethic to take myself very far. Tactics that I used myself was looking at my achievements from an outside perspective. A few months after winning that award, I was chosen to lead my music service’s symphony orchestra. I had to point out to myself that they did not pick me out of pity, they picked me because they thought I was the best option. As musicians, not just performers, we get into this frame of mind that we are not as talented as we think we are. This is just. Wrong. No musician is the same as another, and we have to embrace our originality! (apologies for the cheese) Another tactic I use was not to put myself down when I didn’t achieve something I wanted. For example, I am working on this piece and I cannot play the ending right now.
Instead of saying “you can’t do it”, I break down the issue into smaller problems and solve them one by one.
Now don’t misunderstand what I’m suggesting, I am not saying that we are all going to constantly feel good about ourselves, we are only human. As musicians, we are constantly taking risks, both creatively and in our daily lives, we deserve to know how talented we are and not forget that. Whether we are musicians or not, confidence levels are always going to fluctuate, but I hope whoever reads this article is at least reminded for a split second that they’re special.