ON FEELING INFERIOR (AND A CHALLENGE FOR YOU)

posted in: Blogging, Outdoors, Personal | 30

Back in January when I was at the GetOutside Champions launch in the New Forest I spoke about the fact that I am often the one sat in the corner feeling like I don’t fit in. I’m a bit of an introvert, shy, probably even socially awkward in some ways. I get nervous, worried, apprehensive. Especially when I am with a group of people that I think are out of my league.

Splodz Blogz | Cheddar Gorge

Looking over Cheddar Gorge.

I recently learned that this is a thing. This idea of feeling inferior, like you are an imposter in life, is an actual thing that people have studied and researched and does indeed exist. It’s a problem for many people. I’ve been looking into it and I totally relate to a lot of the writings on imposter syndrome, and I might write more on that another time. But today I wanted to bring to you a small challenge to try and help you (and me) feel a little less inferior than the others in the room.

Like most people, I find myself comparing my life and achievements to those of other people a lot of the time. Not necessarily openly or consciously, but very much inside my mind, without even realising it. I struggle to go up to people and introduce myself properly. Rather I say things like “oh I’m just a blogger” or “oh I just like hiking”. That just is my way of putting myself at the bottom of the group, downplaying my achievements, and demonstrating that I am not good enough. We all do it, and it’s very dangerous to our own self confidence.

Inferior: Lower in rank, status, or quality.

Right, let’s get this one out of the way straight away. There will always be people who have done something bigger or better than you. Oh yes. Unless you really are at the top of the proverbial game, in which case you are probably not reading a blog post by a random blogger right now, you are most likely somewhere in the middle of the pack when it comes to life. Others will have a higher paid job, a more interesting career, have done a longer road trip, a bigger hike, a more difficult expedition, they probably get more daily hits on their blog or likes on their Instagram account, maybe they travel more, take better photos, have more friends, cook nicer food.

Life is basically one big social media feed, and while there is definitely a move towards a more real world online where people share the difficulties as well as the perfection, it is still so easy to end up believing you are inferior. The fact is that we all have different skills, different jobs, different desires. That is what makes the world an interesting place. And so what if someone else does something bigger or longer or faster than you?

Zartusacan - Zion National Park - Zoe F650GS

Riding my bike in Zion National Park.

I have learnt that while some people we meet do indeed look down on you (I will never forget the day that someone I looked up to told me that the trip of my lifetime was not an adventure, it was only a holiday, because I didn’t go anywhere that he considered wilderness – I was hurt and completely goes against my definition of adventure), the vast majority are encouraged and inspired by the achievements and successes of others.

The problem is that we are so good at comparing ourselves to those who seem to be getting it all right, that we end up downplaying anything and everything that we achieve ourselves. And that leads us to feel inferior. And when we feel inferior, we stop striving to be better for ourselves. Comparison and competition in life should be confined to being with yourself. Not what have you done compared to that other person across the room, who has totally different circumstances and life goals, but rather what have you done this time compared to the last time you did this?

So I have a very small challenge for you.

Celebrating Your Success – Comment Below

Let’s celebrate our successes, as these are the things that enhance and enrich our lives. When we focus on the things we are proud of, that go well, that we consider achievements, we will be encouraged and motivated. And as a result, we will do more and achieve more – success breeds success after all.

Comment below with one thing that you have achieved in the last 12 months that you are proud of.

It could be anything. Maybe you got a new job, rose to a challenge, had an adventure or went on an expedition, hiked or ran further than you ever have before, made some extra money from a hobby, learned something new, mastered something you’ve been trying to do for years, became a good friend, faced a fear, stuck to a new healthy habit or broke an unhealthy habit.

Hopefully something as simple as commenting on this blog post with one thing you are proud of from the last year will offer you a little boost and help you realise that you are not inferior.

Splodz Blogz | Ingleton Waterfalls Trail

Hiking at Ingleton Waterfalls.

We need to realise that it is okay to be proud of ourselves. We can tell ourselves that we are good, that we are doing okay, that we have been successful. It’s not fine to be arrogant or use your pride to be rude to or about others, but so good and important to use the feeling of accomplishment to make yourself smile and drive yourself forward to your next goal. The idea is that once you are feeling good about your achievements, once you are celebrating them, you will stop using that just word when describing yourself and comparing yourself quite as much to those around you.

Use this opportunity to put your hand up and share something of that pride and be happy in your own accomplishment without comparing yourself to anyone else. Share below, and let’s be encouraged and inspired by each other.

30 Responses

  1. Sophie Jay Hudson

    I know exactly what you mean because I feel that way every day and I’m so bad at comparing myself to others but the more you do (and accomplish) the more you realise there is no need to feel like a faker. Your blog is very inspiring and I wish you all the luck on your new journey. I’ll look forward to reading all about your new adventures (and most probably be insanely jealous). But you’ve taught me that just as you’ve come so far so we all can.
    My biggest outdoor achievement has to be walking up and down Scarfell Pike last July. It was such a huge challenge for me but I’m so pleased I did it.
    Being an introvert myself I know it’s difficult to strike up new acquaintances but I do hope one day we get the chance to say hello in person (obviously anything arranged would be cancelled and we’d breath a sigh of relief) 🙂 All the best.

    • Splodz

      It’s SO hard to not compare yourself to others and only compete with yourself and strive for your own goals.
      Scafell is a fantastic mountain, not to be sniffed at, well done you x
      Hopefully when we meet we’ll both be having one of those “let’s just do this” days!

  2. Shybiker

    I like you. I enjoy your personality and admire the exceptional effort you put into outdoor adventure. You have many reasons to feel proud.

    I also understand shyness. The name Shybiker wasn’t chosen accidentally!

    My best accomplishment last year was something I conceived, planned and executed — a motorcycle camping trip. It wasn’t easy and almost all my friends said I was nuts. They gave me a dozen reasons not to do it. Yet I persisted — and enjoyed it! In fact, I know that doing hard things is more satisfying *because* they are hard. Overcoming adversity is its own pleasure. Plus, sleeping out in the woods gave me experiences I never expected, like listening to the percussion beat of acorns falling off trees onto my REI tent.

    • Splodz

      Thank you 🙂
      And your motorcycle camping trip is an awesome achievement. It’s not easy, and I know you put lots of effort (and had lots of fun) choosing the right kit and working out where/when to go etc. And sleeping out in the woods is simply wonderful. I’m so glad you enjoyed your adventure 🙂

  3. Nikki

    Giving birth to my second child, Charlie James. He makes me smile every day (something I am sometimes wary of saying as people are not always interested when I mention children)!

    • Splodz

      An excellent achievement, one you should most definitely be proud of. Kids bring so much joy, and you shouldn’t feel you can’t shout that one from the rooftops x

  4. Jane Crombie

    Thank you Xoe for putting that inferiority complex right out there! I am constantly battling with this feeling. My biggest achievement last year was going wild camping by myself .
    Thank you for such a wonderful post xx

    • Splodz

      It seems so normal now I’ve written about it, how odd!
      Wild camping is an amazing thing to do, especially on your own. I’ve never done it, it’s on my list for this year.

  5. Sarah

    I invited a few people to hike together in the Peak District, which is a challenge for me because I feel a sense of responsibility when I organise something and sharing the experience makes it an entirely different trip to going alone.

    Amazing blog post Zoe! It’s a tough subject to bring out in the open, but a very real one and I think you’ve written it beautifully.

    • Splodz

      Oh that’s good – I invited a load of people to hike in the Peaks with me once, it was a definite attempt to do something out of my comfort zone, and it was brilliant. Nice one 🙂

  6. Laura

    I completely agree with what you say, and thanks for putting it out there as a blog post.

    My biggest achievement in the last 12 (ish) months is moving out of London to the countryside, and dropping down to working 3 days a week. It was all getting too much and effectively I have bought some of my life back. A year on i’m loving it, loving having freedom and more time to do whatever takes my fancy. At some point I might decide to “do” something specific with that spare time, but until then I am happily enjoying it.

    • Splodz

      A huge move and change in lifestyle Laura, well done for noticing it and doing something about it. I don’t think you need to “decide” to do anything with your extra time just yet – make the most of having it and time fillers will show themselves!

  7. Mona

    I love this post! I totally recognize myself in problems like these. One thing I achieved which I’m definitely proud of: I learned to think about myself.

    So whenever family, friends or whoever asks me if I can come to (social) thing X (or whatever) I would stop and think if I even want to do that instead of saying yes immediately. In case I don’t really feel like going (or whatever) my response would be ‘No’. (With heavy heart, but it does get better.) Every time I think of it I make a happy jump, in my head that is haha!

  8. Views From an Urban Lake

    I walked 2500 miles through the year, including one 50km walk.

    You would never have known you were shy, you spoke with great confidence, and were very welcoming and comforting to us new comers, your talk certainly helped us feel less out of place

    • Splodz

      Thank you Ashley. It’s funny you know, I can summon something to stand up and speak like that, but sat around the table at dinner all I wanted to do was hide!

      And well done – 2,500 miles is a LONG way!

  9. Claire

    This is a fantastic post! Although I have a mouth on me (!) I too compare and sometimes feel shy about achievements and look at other people with envy. I envy your outdoor spirit and your ability to think before you speak (opposite to me!).

    My favourite thing about backpacking was that social status wasn’t recognised and folks were just interested in where you’d been or where you’re going. Oh and if you wanted to hang out. So so lovely.

    Your bike trip was the most adventurous thing I’d seen in a few years.

    So, perhaps, taking your advice I’ll try not to be shy about personal success. Even the tiny ones ☺

    • Splodz

      Thanks Claire. I completely agree about the nice thing about travel – you are no different to anyone else, you’re just there, passing through, and you will definitely have a story to tell.

      (The tiny things are definitely the most important.)

  10. Kate

    Getting a job that doesn’t make me have a nervous breakdown! I’m on less money but so much happier! I feel the imposter syndrome thing though. People have called me an adventurer, but when you compare it to people who have done grander things than I, I’m not at all, haha! Also, whoever told you your trip wasn’t an adventure can sod off 🙂

    • Splodz

      I totally hear you. I’m so pleased you have found happiness in your work, it’s such a big part of our lives that it’s vital we at least enjoy it. I really believe we should only compare ourselves to ourselves, to see how far we have come – but it’s so hard not to compare ourselves to the grandness of others.

  11. Hannah

    This is very sweet but…I really haven’t done anything. *shrug* I don’t mind being inferior though, someone has to be. We all die in the end. Doesn’t change anything.

    • Splodz

      But we are allowed to die feeling proud of things we have done and achieved, we don’t always have to be nonchalant x

  12. Gus Mckechnie

    Being troubled by depression in the past there have been times doing the odd trip to the gym has been a major adventure. There’s other achievements I’ve had but I’m a fan of anyone who does something positive.

    • Splodz

      Doing something positive and allowing ourselves to smile as a result is a definite win 🙂

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