Spirituality and Self-Care for Showgirls: Be an "Impossible Imposter"
Imposter Syndrome is a common challenge for many performance artists and burlesque dancers. Feelings of not being good enough, of not living up to producers', peers', or audience expectations, fear of failing, fear of being “found-out” as a fraud or pretender… haunt performers, threatening to destroy their confidence and motivation.
For many, the inherent vulnerability of performing and creating art brings with it self-doubt and a near constant questioning of choices and abilities, often exacerbated by necessary and unavoidable critiques, seeking of approval and risk of rejection. This results in complex emotions which have the power to reach back into instances of trauma from childhood and/or adolescence, causing them to resurface in our “now.”
Recurring thoughts of self-doubt often plague my mind, especially in the days leading up to a performance or event. Common mind chatter may sound similar to this:
What if I don’t perform as well as they [producer/peer/audience] expect me to?
What if I make a bunch of mistakes that are obvious to everyone?
They are all going to be disappointed in me
They are all going to perform at way higher levels than me
Who do I think I am, to be teaching this?
So many people know so much more than me, I’m no “expert”
They chose wrong, and they are going to realize it and regret choosing me
I will make a fool of myself, embarrassing those who advocated for me, and I’ll never get hired again
Any of these sound familiar?
When I focus on any one of these thoughts, or often on all of them at the same time, I paralyze myself with fear and self-doubt, making it impossible for me to move forward in any creative endeavor.
Here are some methods I use to combat/soothe/distract from Imposter Syndrome as a burlesque dancer:
MEDITATE : I haven't had my blog long enough, but in the coming days/months you will likely begin to see a pattern regarding my feelings and experience with meditating. Meditation has been the solution to almost every challenge in my life. I'm posting about meditation in regards to Imposter Syndrome because it is the single most effective tool in soothing and distracting from recurring self-sabotaging thoughts, in my experience. During effective meditation (see previous post "Mediation Stripped Down" for instructions regarding my "Quieting the Mind" method), a connection to your Inner Being may be accomplished. You will know you've made a connection to your Inner Being when you feel a sense of detachment from your physical body, like not being able to differentiate "your nose from your toes" (Abraham Hicks), or tingling, or a feeling of weightlessness. In this place of higher frequency and connection, it is improbable and likely impossible to entertain self-deprecating thoughts or opinions. Unconditional love for self and others abounds at this higher vibration. When we are in-tune with our Inner Being, we think as one and join thoughts of total adoration and acceptance of our own limitless potential. We recognize that we are evolving and growing in every new moment and experience.
A regular, daily practice of mediation will help keep Imposter Syndrome at bay by enabling you to maintain a higher frequency consistently. When you raise your vibration, only positive thoughts and emotions abound, and you are able to tap into your innate confidence and flow in self-love.
2. STOP COMPARING : We've all heard the expression, "Comparison is the thief of joy." In my personal experience, nothing gets me to a full-on Imposter Syndrome-induced identity crisis quicker than comparing myself to other performers or producers. There's a reason this exercise feels so icky. It's because deep down, in our adoring Inner Being, we know how truly unique we are, so these contradictory thoughts create disharmony. No one else on this hunk of rock has had our experiences. Our dreams, visions, ideas, inspirations, and manifestations are all completely unique to us, as are our personal lived events and interactions. Not. One. Other. Human. This is what we bring to our art, our creations, and our performances. In the same way two people could have the same act, same costume, same music, and still these performances would different. You are unique and that is the reason you were hired. You are you. And no one else can do what you do. Period.
3. TOOT YOUR OWN HORN : Sometimes in the dark shadow of loathing, we can forget what we've accomplished and how far we've come. Take a moment to scroll through your performer Instagram profile; reread your show announcements; and remind yourself WHAT YOU'VE DONE! Even if you're a brand new performer, you can look at the steps you've taken leading you up to your decision to embark on this burlesque journey and appreciate the lived experiences and the confidence it took to get you where you are today.
One thing that blew my mind was when I curated a listing of my virtual acts for my website. I hadn't seen a complete list of every one, and I was overwhelmed and so proud of what I created during the pandemic. Taking the time to write a short description of each act brought me back into those experiences, and I was able to appreciate the time and energy that went into creating the costuming, choreography, and final filming of each.
Take a moment and pick an accomplishment (or two or three) and write a few words about each one. Find a picture of a show and close your eyes and relive some of that night. Find a picture of a costume you created and recall the process of creating such a thing of beauty!
According to La Petite Mystique of Portland, ME, making a list of accomplishments helps to keep her from succumbing to Imposter Syndrome. As a newer performer, La Petite often reflects on the timeline of what she's been able to achieve so far in the short time she’s been in the industry, and this exercise proves to be a big confidence booster.
What have you achieved since beginning your burlesque journey?
While Imposter Syndrome may be a common challenge experienced by artists and performers, there are tools and exercises we can engage in to help overcome this damaging mindset and debilitating thought patterns. Meditation, eliminating comparison behaviors, and actively celebrating our past accomplishments and progress, are all ways to increase our confidence and tap into self-love, worthiness and limitless potential.
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