Overcoming Imposter Syndrome as an Adventurer

Adventurers are bloody cool. Whether I’m looking at someone who has just done their first solo wild camp or someone who has crossed Antarctica, I always take away some inspiration from the people around me. I recently wrote this post about becoming a true adventurer and the things I want to achieve to make me feel more valid in a world of incredible achievers.

I am working on improving my content to get my voice out into the adventure sphere, but I have also been focussing hard on my confidence. I had been feeling like an imposter, which I know is something a lot of people struggle with. This feeling may not be based on fact, but the feeling is so, so real and is hard to overcome.

I’ve made such progress with this recently, and I wanted to share my top tips for overcoming imposter syndrome as an adventurer.

Find Your Why

Why do you want to go on adventures? Clarifying this for yourself can be a strong motivation for helping you to get to where you want to be.

For me, the main reasons I like to adventure is to experience life more deeply, get out of my comfort zone, grow as a person, challenge myself, feel a sense of self-worth and achievement. The impact the things I aim to do have on my wellbeing is pretty profound, and I actually consider taking on adventures a vital part of my self-care.

But don’t be afraid to be totally honest with yourself about your reasons. While the items listed above are my primary motivations, I have others that I’m not as proud of. I like the feeling of validation I get when I tell people what I’m doing. I like that other women might be inspired by the things I do. I enjoy talking about the things I do.

Okay, maybe that goes against what adventure should be. Maybe that’s not something I should shout about online. But do you know what? I’m okay with that and I’m not ashamed. I adventure because I love it, but if I also have a bit of an ego about it, that doesn’t make me a bad person.

Your reasons for wanting to do the things you do are valid. If you like climbing mountains because you love the selfies you can take on the summit, that doesn’t take anything away from the fact that you just climbed a mountain.

Defining, for yourself, all of the things you will get out of the adventures you want to have will help you get out there and make them happen. And getting out there and making it happen will help you overcome your self-doubt because you will be buzzing on adrenaline and endorphins.

Get a mentor or a coach

I managed to get myself an adventure coach through the Love Her Wild community that you may have read about in my post about Finding Your Tribe.

This incredible woman, Clare Winter was offering free coaching sessions to a few women, and I snapped up the opportunity. I have had two sessions so far and it has changed my outlook on who I am as an adventurer and what I can achieve.

Most of the things she has helped me with are around confidence. I often compare myself to other athletes and adventurers, feeling inferior. This seemed like a big issue for me, as so much of adventure is about mental toughness, and I know it can be frustrating for people around me when I’m constantly apologising for not being fit enough or fast enough. With my upcoming trip to hike the equivalent height of Everest in the Lake District, I wanted to make sure I am an asset to the team rather than a burden.

Clare helped me to look at myself from an outsider’s point of view, instead of internalising and beating myself up. The simple act of asking me what advice my favourite adventure would give me when I’m feeling insecure helped to look at myself differently. Sarah Outen or Sophie Radcliffe wouldn’t be judging me or being mean to me – they would be motivating and supporting me. I should show that same kindness to myself.

She has also helped me to feel more confident about wild camping by myself. Just talking through my worries about sleeping out and how I can overcome them on a night out under the stars was a huge help. As a result of our conversation, tonight I am putting it into action and will be sleeping in a bivvy somewhere.

Have clear goals

For a long time, I didn’t clarify what adventures I wanted to undertake and how I would make that happen. I lay on my bed on a weekend, steaming mug of coffee in hand, scrolling through Instagram thinking ‘I wish that was me’. I looked in awe at women who were cycling across continents, rowing oceans and sleeping wild, and thought ‘That’s the dream.’ I felt like I could identify with them in a sense because I felt the innate spark that made me want to get out there, but my reality was so far away.

I travelled, I exercised, I blogged, I did all of the things I am doing now, but without clear goals, I didn’t feel like it was necessarily moving me forward.

Now that I’m working towards an Everesty Adventure in the Lake District, followed some months later by a huge cross-country ski expedition in the Arctic, I have direction. I know where I want to be, so every day, I can try to do things that move me closer to my goals. Now my gym sessions are focused and I feel like I’m heading towards my dreams every single day.

If you know you want to climb a particular mountain or take on a certain race, write it down, and put a plan in place to make it happen.

Knowing where you’re going and implementing a strategy to get you there will really help you to stop feeling like an imposter and make you feel like you’re achieving.

 

Use progressions

Often the reason for feeling like an imposter is the feeling that your dreams are too big. Having a goal, but not knowing how you’ll get there.

Using progressions is really key in helping you feel more able to achieve.

Wild camping is a big example of this for me. Tonight, I will attempt my first solo bivvy. I won’t lie – I am scared. Not scared of what might happen, just a fear of the fear I know I will feel when I’m out there in the dark on my own.

But I have built up to this, and I’m sure it will help. I did my first UK wild camp with a friend and a tent and that helped me feel more confident about being where I’m not supposed to be. Having another person for support is a huge help. Then I did my first solo wild camp in Dartmoor for my birthday, where it is legal, so it didn’t feel risky.

It might be harder in a bivvy, without the illusion of protection that a tent provides, but on the flip side, it will help me be aware of my surroundings so I can assure myself that the rustling is indeed a fox and not a serial killer. Having done it in a more comfortable situation before, I am ready for this.

Having progressions for your adventure can make a difference. If a goal seems too big, start small and work your way up. Then you will feel super confident when you get there.

Just do it

Nike said it best.

When you’ve put all the other steps in place, just do the things you want to do. Fight that voice in your head, fight the excuses holding you back, and get out there.

Nothing will make you feel like less of an imposter and more of a superhero than achieving the things you’ve had your sights set on.

All of those top adventurers, those people we look up to and hold in high esteem, started somewhere. They have all been scared, they have all been frustrated, they have cried, they have feared failure, they have overcome challenges.

This is your one precious life – get out into our stunning planet and make that dream happen!