Overcoming self-doubt when ice climbing

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“Let’s do this cool gully,” said Richard, discussing the Sunday adventure plans in the Lake District, while sizing up his crampons and ice axes.

We were still in the cosy confines of the hut, nursing hangovers and savouring strong coffee, yet I was absolutely terrified of climbing a wall of ice with just some spikey bits of metal being all that would stop me from falling down the mountainside.

Even before setting eyes on the beast, just the thought of my first ice climb was making my hangover worse. I felt positively bilious.

All the usual doubts rose up and crashed down on me like a tidal wave: I’ve never been ice climbing before, how was I going to cope? I’m not good enough yet so how can I possibly do an ice climb? I don’t have the right kit with me. I don’t want to let the others down. What if I freak out and get stuck? Or worse, what if I fall off the mountain?

To be honest, that last thought wasn’t the one that concerned me most. It was the others – the ones that were like neon signs pointing out that I just wasn’t good enough. Continue reading

Do you have imposter syndrome?

So it transpires that I have a condition called imposter syndrome.

No I’m not pretending to be a superhero who wears their underpants on the outside. And I’m definitely not an undercover spy, and I can’t claim to be royalty.

Nope, imposter syndrome, as it turns out, is a condition where the sufferer feels like a fraud and doesn’t believe they deserve their success, and fears they will be “found out” by their peers and bosses. Continue reading

How to conquer self-doubt: Stop making excuses

I have become quite adept at making excuses as to why I can’t do things:

“I can’t go to the gym because I’m too tired.”

“I don’t want to go out after work because it’s too cold or I haven’t got anything nice to wear.”

“I can’t climb that mountain because I’m not fit enough and don’t have the right skills.”

“I can’t go travelling because I have family commitments.”

“I can’t start researching my 40 volcanoes because I’m too busy.”

“I can’t achieve this goal because it’s too expensive.”

“I can’t be successful because I’m not good enough and don’t deserve it.”

From one point of view these might seem like logical reasons but at the end of the day they are all just big, fat, ugly excuses. And excuses, I have learnt, get in the way of doing things, of achieving goals, of making changes to your life. They stop dreams in their tracks, they keep you stuck in a rut, and stuck in a comfort zone.  They make you chose the easy option, the safe option, the boring option.

Excuses are evil and bad. Continue reading

Experiencing self-doubt

Almost a year ago I quit my editor’s job to go freelancing. That was a big decision; it was tough. But equally it was liberating. And now I can’t imagine having to step foot in an office everyday, let alone share a commuter train twice a day with stressed-out lemmings.
But this almost-year of freelancing has been interesting and more difficult than I expected it would be. If I thought quitting my job was hard, that has been nothing in comparison with grappling with the fear and self-doubt of venturing out on the hare-brained idea to climb 40 volcanoes by the age of 40. The woeful tally so far being a big fat one! (I sit here writing this with the self-pity coming off me in waves).
The fact is, in the past 10 months I’ve experienced a rollercoaster of emotions – from the jubilation of employment freedom to the finger-biting worry of where the next pay cheque will come from, and a whole mish-mash in between.

Continue reading