Nature never judges us on who we are, what we look like, or how well we fit in with society. Nature simply accepts us and calms us. Welcome Helina to the blog today as she discusses her experiences with the impostor syndrome.

Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome) is a term coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes referring to high-achieving individuals marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always felt out of place. I grew up in a predominately white, middle-class neighborhood – where the name on your shoes and clothes determined your friends.

Growing up with a single mom working her tail off, I didn’t have the name brands, mostly just some hand-me-downs. Therefore, I never felt like I fit in. This continued into college, where most of the students in my department looked like they walked right out of an REI catalog ready for a long trek. Well as for me, growing up in suburban Southern California, where my family is more in tune with tattoos and cars, I didn’t explore the great outdoors much.

I found myself in nature

I can recall a rainy day during my 2nd year in college where I went to speak with my mentor Dr. Bolman, who was also the director of the INRSEP (Indian Natural Resource Science and Engineering Program). I sat across from her desk with tears running down my cheeks explaining to her the best that I knew how. How I felt I wasn’t smart enough to continue school, and how I don’t look like or have many things in common with my fellow peers in my department.

However, being the first person in my family to go to college I knew I couldn’t quit school, even though I wanted to. I stuck it out and found myself hiking more, being outside amongst the giant redwoods, and going to walk the beach by myself or just watch the sunset from the park.

Mother Nature does not judge

I found solace in nature, because out in Mother Nature I wasn’t judged on what I wore, what my GPA was or my background. My last year in college the syndrome slowly started to fade, because of adventures outside.

The imposter was there because I allowed it. I’ve come to terms that I’m definitely not going to fit in everywhere, and that’s okay. I can go out in the natural world where I fit in perfectly, imperfect there. I have now accomplished hikes that I would have never even dreamed ever four years ago – completing Half Dome in Yosemite National Park on my 27th birthday and reaching the summit of my first 14’er this year. Hiking is more than just walking on a path, it’s when every cell of my being feels free, free to be just me!

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3 comments on “Imposter syndrome

  1. With age comes wisdom and we eventually figure out that what we have or don’t have shouldn’t be up for comparison. What matters is what’s inside our hearts not our pockets.

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