The outdoors is a place meant to spark a sense of freedom and inspiration. A place that is without judgment. A place where you can be fully yourself. For a long time, I felt all of this when outside. I felt at peace. I was able to push my limits while finding growth within myself. For as long as I can remember being outside offered endless inspiration for me. The more I immerse myself in the outdoor industry, the more I feel like an imposter. I’m so often surrounded by individuals who completely kill it at whatever they try- whether it be climbing, running, skiing, etc. These are the people who make it look so easy. Don’t get me wrong, they work their asses off to get to where they are today. However, at times it is easy to lose yourself in the comparison.
Imposter syndrome is real. It is a feeling that no matter the validity, you doubt your abilities and accomplishments. No matter how hard you try, you won’t fit in with the community that you want. I have made great shifts in what I prioritize and who I want to surround myself with over the years. For so long I thought I needed to fit a certain mold in order to find acceptance. Within the climbing community, I realized that I would never be able to flash that 5.13 route, but instead of recognizing that is OKAY, instead I felt as though I wasn’t allowed to be in the climbing community. Within the running community, I felt as though since I couldn’t run an ultra marathon daily, I wasn’t allowed to be part of the running community. Within the outdoor community I felt as though I needed a perfectly curated social media presence that proved I was fully a “nature girl.”
As I look back and relive those feelings I almost feel foolish. Foolish for thinking that I ever had to prove something to someone. Foolish for not recognizing my own strengths. Foolish for ever thinking that nature gave a shit who you are and what you do. Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s important to honor those feelings. The feelings of inadequacy are valid. I think the important thing to remember is this- what can you do to dispute those feelings? What can you do to remind yourself that a true community doesn’t care or judge you for your capabilities? When you find your “people” you shouldn’t have to change yourself in order to fit in. I think thoughts of inadequacy come and go as you grow as an individual. Here’s to fighting those thoughts. Here’s to realizing your own strengths and not relying on other’s perceptions of you.