Most of the people I know actually are good at what they do. Frighteningly so sometimes. I just want those people to understand why I say that they’re good, and how much I expect them to take that to heart.
So, I noticed something.
To get better at a craft, whether it be drawing or writing or music, you have to hang out with people who are better than yourself. This is cool, especially when everyone has non-overlapping specialties; the group can trade tips and suchlike.
The problem is this: we’re human, we measure ourselves up against our peer group. The better the people around you are, for a certain level of skill, you think of yourself as worse. The fact is, most of these communities where people swap tips and craft are already at a very high skill level, at (say) the 95th percentile of the population at least. An average artist in such a group would be better than (say) 97% of the population, and still be known as “about average” (50th percentile) in the group.
Second contributing factor: artists self-hate a lot. It’s the best way to self-improvement (if you can’t pick apart what you did wrong you won’t be able to fix it next time), but it also helps to prevent you from being accurate about really measuring how good you are compared to other people (you pick X amount of nits in your work and Y amount of nits in someone else’s, where X<Y inevitably because you spend more time with your own stuff). Which is in turn pretty directly correlated to self-esteem. The result of these effects is a lot of people measuring themselves up against the people they aspire to emulate, or even better yet measuring themselves up against an unachievable ideal, and getting really frustrated with themselves about it.
It’s significant enough that, in some circles, people who don’t beat up on themselves are perceived as amateur, “not serious” practitioners. (One of my good music-friends confided in me that he didn’t like another acquaintance solely because said acquaintance was “arrogant” about their skill level.) I’m going to be blunt, that kind of snark makes a toxic environment and I really prefer not to be around people who spend their time being elitist about how much they hate their own “lack of” skill.
But there are also a lot of artists who engage in self-hate for the sake of self-hate, and that’s really frustrating to me because they seem to be the only ones who don’t understand that they are actually very good at what they do.
I don’t think the answer is “stop doing that”.
I think the answer is to take a step back, every so often, and acquaint yourself with the actual skill level of the general population, for some perspective.