By: Ambassador Olivia Carr
Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a "fraud". [Wikipedia]
My horse and I had some really incredible opportunities in 2017 - we qualified for and competed at Team finals, we scored an invite to Zone finals, and other funs stuff! I've been delightfully surprised at our ability to go out and do all these things despite only having 3-4 shows in the budget for the season.
But for whatever reason, I caveat it every time someone congratulates me.
With every person I share my exciting news with, I make sure to super over-emphasize the fact that it's not actually a big accomplishment and it's not really a big deal and I'm not really a contender, I'm just honored to be there.
I don’t think I’m the only one who has a tough time seeing myself as a contender. But I mean honestly- we're not very good at getting a jump-off gallop going, my position is nowhere near where it should be, I bury my horse at the base and get launcher-long distances more often than we find the sweet spot.
We mess up all the time! When facing off against such talented riders, is it any wonder that I hesitate to consider myself part of that cohort?
But thinking that way makes me lose before I even begin. Frankie doesn’t know that he’s up against horses with more experience, he just knows that the buzzer means it’s time to go do his job. And holy moly does Frankie love doing his job. Part of being a good partner for him means going in there with the confidence that we can work together to safely and competitively make it around the course.
I’ve decided to try to re-frame my thinking. Frankie and I work really hard, and I've sacrificed a lot to pursue these competitive goals. I don't want to show up and just be happy to be there around the 'real' riders. I AM a contender.
All of our weaknesses are things we're actively working on strengthening, and we ARE strengthening them over time. More importantly- every person out there has weaknesses too. The riders who go out there and lay down gorgeous trips are the ones who have worked to address their own shortcomings to get where they are. And even those seemingly flawless riders make mistakes too.
Along with physical training, I think we all need to work on our mental game when we prepare to compete. We can't control how other people ride- but we can show up and be determined to put down our best trip, and know that our best is worthy of being there.
Do you experience Impostor Syndrome? How do you manage it?