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-   -   The imposter complex (https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=569468)

whvick 01-16-2020 07:38 AM

The imposter complex
 
My son has a PhD from MIT in mechanical engineering with emphasis on biomedical and a minor in business. Yes that is bragging, but it is necessary to get to my point.
He said when he first got there half the students were multi-lingual and the other half just plane ole geniuses. Like many others he thought “when will they discover I am not smart enough to be here?” They called that the “imposter complex”. Fortunately he was smart enough and now works for a biomedical company.
When it comes to guitars I have the imposter complex. I have fun as a bedroom balladeer, and playing and singing for my grandkids, but that is a soft audience. When I compare myself to the knowledge and skill of so many of the forum members I am humbled. I talk about guitars, but my skill set does not justify the ones I have.
I do claim privilege to be on the forum, cause my guitar pick stories are fun. Yet those come from the patients, not me.
So how about it? Are there other guitarist wannabes out there with imposter complex. Speak up. Confession is good for the soul.

PorkPieGuy 01-16-2020 07:44 AM

Played guitar for years, sometimes for pay.

Never learned a single scale. Never played one lead.

RalphH 01-16-2020 07:44 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by whvick (Post 6266537)
but my skill set does not justify the ones I have.

The guitars you buy are better justified by their price vs your disposable income than their price vs your skill. I really don't believe in 'earning' a nice guitar by being great at playing. Even bad players benefit from good playability and tone (more so than better players very often).

I believe in earning a nice guitar by spending the required number of hours at work in order to earn the extra money to buy one with, once my rent is paid and my kids are fed.

We don't talk about the need to be really good at telling the time before you buy a rolex, or be really good at living in a small house before buying a big one. These are purely financial decisions. Buy a guitar is the same. There are very few things we really need in life beyond adequate food, shelter and medical care.

airborne1 01-16-2020 07:46 AM

My skill set is minimal, and at my age, any small improvement is considered huge. I will never perform on stage, but, I’m in my own world in my small guitar room. With that said, yes, my guitars are way, way above my skill level. They include Fender Strat Pro, Fender Tele Pro, and an Ibanez AM 93. I love guitars, especially nice ones!

airborne1 01-16-2020 07:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RalphH (Post 6266545)
The guitars you buy are better justified by their price vs your disposable income than their price vs your skill. I really don't believe in 'earning' a nice guitar by being great at playing. Even bad players benefit from good playability and tone.

I believe in earning a nice guitar by spending the required number of hours at work in order to earn the money to buy one with once my rent is paid and my kids are fed.

Nicely said!

Goat Mick 01-16-2020 07:49 AM

I think that anyone who is humble about their craft and sees the continuous room for growth will always have a bit of the "impostor complex". For the past few years I've managed to play about 150 shows per year, and still I feel like nobody checked my ID when they let me in the door. I don't see it as a bad thing, but it does create some anxiety.

PorkPieGuy 01-16-2020 07:50 AM

I feel this way with drumming too. I've own a few professional-grade drum sets (I'm down to two now). I've never taken a lesson, and I'm not hot shot, that's the truth. I play songs well, but ask me to solo and I'm a deer in the headlights.

I get more work playing drum by two things:

1. Being able to play softly.

and

2. Being really nice and doing my best to get along with others.

Not a lot of clubs, bars, breweries, churches, and private events really care about how fast I can play a paradiddle. What they do care about is playing songs, and that's what I do.

ChrisE 01-16-2020 07:55 AM

I have that condition, but I didn't even know it has a name.

I play a lot of gigs; sometimes 3-5 times a week in the summer, and couple of times a month the rest of the year.

I'm always afraid someone is going to find out I don't really know what I'm doing.I just play basic strummy three chords songs. No leads, no loopers, no fancy riffs. Just strumming and singing. I've just memorized a bunch of songs and I can sing well enough to present them in a way that the audience is able to recognize them.

I just got hired to play at a retreat at my day job. All our employees (attorneys) are flying in from all over the country for the retreat and I'm terrified one (or more) of those high-achieving brainiacs is going to be a real musician and blow my cover in front of everyone.

fazool 01-16-2020 07:57 AM

Timely topic - our daughter was recently counseled on the exact same thing.

Probably the hardest program to get admitted to is veterinary school. It is, quite literally, easier to become a brain surgeon than a veterinarian - simply because there are so few schools and so many applicants the rejection rate and competition to get in is enormous.

Our daughter (deservedly) started veterinary school. She has a degree in biology, has 8000 hours experience, worked at a veterinary clinic for four years and volunteers at three shelters and runs a feral rescue program on her own. Also not bragging but the background is germane to this point.

In her first semester they had a student success session where a psychologist told them all about "impostor syndrome". The psychologist explained "you probably all think we made a mistake and that you dont belong here". She went on to reassure them that "you are good enough and you do belong here and it is not a mistake and you aren't an impostor and not going to be exposed as not-good-enough."

Our daughter said it clarified a huge stress because even with her background she had exactly that feeling.

We talked about this a lot and I found it to be a very enlightening topic and very educational.

And, yes I immediately applied it to myself and my guitar playing.

I had similar conversation with our other daughter who would complain after a school concert if she made a mistake, I tried explaining that no one heard it. Well the tables turned and now she says that to me.

My friend runs (literally) the #1 local party/cover band in this region and he always has friends up on stage playing with them. He invites me up to play and while I love it I always think my imperfections are huge.

I wonder if I should be up there playing with them and if I am "good enough" After an impromptu song recently he commented "that's the best that song ever sounder for us"

Yes I have impostor syndrome......so bad!

Mark L 01-16-2020 08:01 AM

Awareness is a double edged sword.

gfspencer 01-16-2020 08:02 AM

I am 73. I have been playing guitar since I was 15 but I don't think I am a very good guitar player.

I been singing in choirs since I was 15. I was in my church choir, my high school chorus, my college choir (and college small group choir). I sang in my seminary choir. I sing in my church choir now. But I can't read music! I don't know what notes I am singing but I rarely miss a note. (Our choir director relies on me to keep the other bases in line.)

I play bagpipes but don't ask me to tell you what notes I am playing.

In short, I am an imposter. But I don't care because I enjoy music.

RalphH 01-16-2020 08:43 AM

I will also add this to my thoughts above;

My 3 guitars combined are worth about 2x what my car is worth. Some people would consider that nuts for someone for whom guitar is only a hobby.

Every time a jam with a certain friend of mine, who is miles better than me, I'm painfully aware of how poor a guitarist and musician I am by comparison. Every now and then he grins at me playing badly on my $4k hummingbird and says "you can't put it down to anything except user error with that". He's right and that's fine by me. It's a lot simpler to know it's all my fault than keep wondering if a 'better' guitar wouldn't help. Keeps me practicing rather than shopping.

But I play and enjoy my guitars most days. I drive about twice a month for leisure like taking my young kids to the zoo. I do less than 2000 miles a year.

At the end of the day, you have however much spare money you have to spend and how you choose to allocate it is really no-ones business than yours (and your wifes, obviously)

I don't personally see any value in having an expensive car, but I do see 'value' in having expensive guitars.

And at least my guitars are not full of mud, candy wrappers and rotting apple cores...

619TF 01-16-2020 08:49 AM

This is P.C. speak for a simple lack of confidence. Since society tends to pamper kids so much these days it's fairly common once they realize the great big world isn't as friendly as mommy and daddy made it out to be (no shade on the OP, this is a generality). Because saying they're not "confident" might lead to anxiety in people they've just make up a big scientific sounding name for it.

jaymarsch 01-16-2020 08:51 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RalphH (Post 6266617)
I will also add this to my thoughts above;

My 3 guitars combined are worth about 2x what my car is worth. Some people would consider that nuts for someone for whom guitar is only a hobby.

Every time a jam with a certain friend of mine, who is miles better than me, I'm painfully aware of how poor a guitarist and musician I am by comparison. Every now and then he grins at me playing badly on my $4k hummingbird and says "you can't put it down to anything except user error with that"

But I play and enjoy my guitars most days. I drive about twice a month for leisure like taking my young kids to the zoo. I do maybe 2000 miles a year.

At the end of the day, you have however much spare money you have to spend and how you choose to allocate it is really no-ones business than yours (and your wifes, obviously)

I don't personally see any value in having an expensive car, but I do see 'value' in having expensive guitars.

And at least my guitars are not full of mud, candy wrappers and rotting apple cores...

I could have written this exact post (except for the wife and kids part - :) )
I own and enjoy several guitars way above my play grade. I play mostly in my living room but feel the imposter complex most when I perform. It is like the imposter complex trifecta - guitar player/singer/songwriter.

Best,
Jayne

FlyWilde 01-16-2020 08:59 AM

If playing the guitar you 'earned' was the rule, I'd be plucking a rubber band stretched over a piece of card board.

I don't play to meet some objective standard of excellence. I play because of the way I feel while I play and the head space it puts me in when I'm done. Doesn't matter where my head is at when I pick up the guitar, it is in a good place when I set it down.

Would I like to be 'thousands of screaming fans' good. You betcha. Will it happen? Probably not. Doesn't matter, I keep on working at getting better and trying each session to improve in some small way.

So I buy nice guitars because I can. They're beautiful, it improves the quality of my life and causes me to play them more. A professional set up always makes it more fun.

IMO, play for whatever reason you want. Play at whatever level you're willing to put in the work to achieve. For me, he quality of guitar is, like said previously, is a factor of disposable income, not skill.


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