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The Art Fear

I once heard someone say what that perfectly put to words my biggest fear that I had never been able to articulate for years:

“I am deathly terrified that they will mistakenly believe that I am deluding myself into thinking that I’m good at this. That they won’t understand that I know very well how bad my pictures are.”

Probably the biggest obstacle I have in my art TBH. The fear of being seen as an over-estimator-of-self.

Or, for artists at a higher level, swap out “good” for “great” and “bad” for “mediocre”.

Or at an even higher level, swap out “great” for “flawless” and “mediocre” for “improvable”.

It’s less the quality and more the over-estimation, that they’ll believe that I’m boasting, that they believe that I’m saying this is awesome before it’s awesome.

Contrasted with “impostor syndrome”

To me, classic impostor syndrome is also painful, it’s “but they think I’m good and they’ll realize how bad I am and fire me and I’ll die” whereas this art fear is “but they think I’m bad but they think I’m kidding myself into thinking I’m good”.

In the “impostor syndrome” fear, my view of the other people are kind, reasonable but high-expectations, known people. My colleagues and bosses and customers.

In the case of this art fear, it’s more like my view of these more mysteries other people are anonymous haters just waiting to bring me down a peg from my high jante-disregarding self-over-appreciating, attention-seeking, ass horse.

It’s not necessarily a rational fear, or that people are actually assuming that. But a pervasive dread nonetheless.

Pushing through that and just keeping on playing in all the senses of the word.

Jessica suggested that this was due to the commodotization of art and the pressure to be productive.

I agree.

There’s also another reason, here locally (this was first noted by a Danish author, but it’s true in Sweden also): the “Jante” law, the taboo of kidding yourself that you’re “better” than the rest of us (along any vector) is so big. And, it makes sense, we wanna be all together in solidarity, work together, it’s not a race etc.

But the fear then remains that they’ll think I’m breaking the “Jante” law. Fears of taboos can make it so hard to just be free to make really bad paintings and drawings, which is fun. Or sing badly or write confusingly or whatever. ♥

Not to mention that it makes even harder to dare to try to make good stuff. Because doing something bad and saying “lol it’s bad but fun” is way safer in the jante-regard than reaching for good and failing.