Thursday, December 10, 2015

Imposter Syndrome

In my couch-bound web surfing last week, I found out that Imposter Syndrome is a thing. It's defined as, "Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved".  

That pretty much sums up my life, and I was dumbstruck that there is a word for this and it's a thing that other people feel. 

If you were to ask me how I have achieved all the things I have, I would, honestly, tell you that I was very lucky. If you were to ask me how I keep going in the face of my disease and its limitations, I'd tell you, honestly, that I'm just too stupid to quit. If you were to ask me why my horses are so well-behaved and good at what I ask them to do, I'd tell you, honestly, that I just have good horses. 

I've done a lot in my 35 years, but I'm always afraid that people will see what a fraud I really am. It was luck, being in the right place at the right time, and just being too damned stupid to see that I was in over my head that got me this far. And someday, someone is going to figure that out, right?

But people still call me up to see if I'll come take care of their horses, and people still ask me for advice about their horses, and they still want me to organize their shows and clinics. I guess they didn't get the memo that I'm a big fraud.

The other day I was talking to a friend of mine, a Grand Prix rider, who was just given the go-ahead to show a GP horse that they trained, but haven't shown yet. My friend laughed, and said that they'd go into the ring just like I do. My friend meant that they were heading into the ring without having a damn clue what was going to happen, but they were going to roll with it and have fun.  And that's when I realized that people who have trained Grand Prix horses feel the same way I do, like they don't know what the hell they're doing and they're just going to roll with it.

So, maybe I'm not an imposter. I've put on plenty of shows and clinics that people really enjoyed. I've been everything from a groom, to a barn manager, to an assistant trainer. I've been riding and caring for horses my whole life in many different disciplines and styles. I turned a Thoroughbred, that Arthur Kottas himself called "very difficult", from a soured jumper into a horse that my kids can ride, a horse that can go on Hunter Paces and Trail Rides as a "babysitter" for young horses, and can occasionally put in a semi-decent 3rd Level Test. 

Oh, wait... Nope. Probably still an imposter based on this picture.

I don't think I'll ever silence the little voice in my head that tells me that I'm a big fraud and someday everyone will figure that out. What I do instead is to tell that little voice to shut the fuck up, because I'm going to do whatever the fuck I want, anyway. 


  1. Love it. :-) Way to take adversity and make it your bitch.

  2. i think that we're all like that- esp with dressage which is such a frustrating sport at times. :)

  3. lol the imposter syndrome struggle is real. but yea, that voice can just stfu ;)

  4. Interesting, I haven't heard of that but it rings true for me too. Sounds like you're the real deal, not an impostor at all (take that little voice!).

  5. We talk about impostor syndrome a lot in graduate school, because everyone feels it. I haven't felt it in riding yet, because I feel like I'm still working really hard for the things I am trying to achieve. Though occasionally when my horse is running away from me at a show I'm like "... whelp, people gonna be judging me for that."

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