I wasn’t really sure what I was gonna write about for today’s Sunday Sound Thought, but the past two weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about self confidence in my work & being a “professional”. The topic is complex but I’m gonna try to summarize a couple of my thoughts.
This might turn into a loose rant, consider yourself warned!
Confidence & I have been struggling to become friends when it comes to my work as “professional” for as long as I can remember. Even writing this there’s this voice in the back of my head that keeps repeating:
I tend to not being too confident about myself as a “professional”. I don’t really like the term a whole lot.
One the one hand it’s because I’m afraid of suffering the Dunning Kruger Effect, although being aware of it’s existence certainly helps avoiding it. Most of the time at least. On the other hand it’s because there are plenty of people out there, that I believe are a lot better at “things” than I am.
But do they actually believe that too?
The self confidence issue seems to be a common theme that a lot of people working in any creative field can relate to. Many are dealing with Impostor Syndrome, the feeling of being a fraud, unworthy of accomplishment (I highly recommend watching this talk on the topic by Stephan Schutze).
I’m no exception. Even after almost 15 years working in audio I still tend to think of myself as “just another random audio person”.
There are people working at Abbey Road, you know!
How do you measure accomplishment & what does it really tell you about being “professional”?
Do you measure by the scope or the success of a project? The size of the company you work for? Appearances? About the amount of money & therefore risk involved? Work ethic? Being a good team player?
From a client point of view it might be any or all of these.
From a personal or artistic point of view it might just be about being able to make a living doing the thing you love.
There’s many angles to this.
Adam T. Croft recently wrote an interesting blog post about confidence where he raises a couple of good points:
It’s nobody else’s job to call you a professional.
I tend to agree. If you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else (keeping Dunning Kruger in mind of course)?
However, clients/peers & I myself will of course assess my “professionalism” by comparing my work & also me as a person, to other “professionals”.
But, putting the non audio related traits aside, can someone be more or less of an audio “professional” than someone else in a field where people perceive the results of our work/art subjectively different?
Back to self confidence.
I’ve been working in audio for just a little over 15 years now. Do I doubt my general abilities as an audio “professional”? No. They might not be on the same level as of my idols, but I have been able to pay my rent & therefore confidence in them. But there’s always room for improvement!
Do I have self doubt in the artistic side of my work?
Every single day! But I believe it’s a necessary & good thing, because it forces me to reflect on myself & hopefully improve upon my work in the process.
To me, being “professional” means not only having confidence in your abilities, but more so to realize your shortcomings & to always look for ways to improve. Not only your skills, but as a person.
There’s always someone you know is better at what you’re doing. Someone to look up to & to learn from. Someone to “aspire” to.
Have confidence, but always doubt yourself.
What’s your take on self doubt & professionalism? Do you suffer Impostor Syndrome or want to share your story? Please do so in the comments!
As has come before; many of these posts will be philosophical in nature. Some will be in contradiction to previous postings. These are not intended as truths or assertions, they’re merely thoughts…ideas. Think of this as stream of consciousness over a wide span…Please bare with us as we traverse the abstract canals of audio musings.