We’ve all felt it before – that sense of “I don’t belong here."
Have you ever been participating in an outdoor activity, say a group hike, and although you’ve completed very similar hikes multiple times in the past, irrational feelings creep in and suddenly you begin to feel out of place? You begin to question your worth and abilities and ask yourself, "What am I doing here?" Will I even be able to keep up with these people? Am I a poser? A fraud? You're not alone. These uncomfortable thoughts and feelings can be defined as "Imposter Syndrome," and almost everyone has experienced it at least once, if not many times throughout their life. Imposter Syndrome is defined as "persistent doubt concerning one's abilities or accomplishments accompanied by the fear of being exposed as a fraud despite evidence of one's ongoing success," (Merriam-Webster.com, 2022).
As an outdoor brand, we too often experience outdoor imposter syndrome. We can get caught up in comparing ourselves to other larger outdoor clothing brands which leave us asking ourselves: Are we enough?
Why do we feel like imposters?
Unfortunately, there’s a narrative in our society that to be “outdoorsy,” you should know how to pitch a tent with your eyes closed and start a fire by simply rubbing together two sticks. You must use a compass instead of GPS and of course, you must always prefer a sleeping bag on the ground over your Tempur-Pedic mattress. This set of unwritten rules often leaves us feeling as if we aren't "hardcore" enough to be a true outdoor lover or as we like to call it, an Outsider.
Imposter syndrome impacts many outdoor lovers who don’t necessarily fit the gender, race, and social class of our culture’s stereotypical “outdoorsman.” This comparison can cause us to question our own love for the outdoors and ironically, lead us to feel like an "Outsider," when we're outside!
Redefining the term Outsider
The term Outsider is traditionally defined as a person who does not belong to a particular group" (Merriam-Webster.com, 2022). But in recent years to combat the stigma that the great outdoors is a place best suited for a certain gender, race, or sexuality, we have repurposed the term to describe people who love being outside. The outdoors should be an inviting place where we all feel welcomed and no one feels like an outsider, or an “imposter.”
Combating imposter syndrome in nature is not about having the most skills or the best gear, it’s simply about accepting that we are all deserving. It’s about getting rid of societal stigmas and understanding that there is no scale or spectrum when it comes to measuring how "outdoorsy" a person is.
To us, Outsiders feel a natural pull toward the great outdoors. They are curious. They have a deep appreciation and respect for the wild and the creatures that inhabit it. They might rock climb the world’s largest boulders in their spare time, or they might just prefer the window seat on a plane so they can admire the clouds. Every outsider is different. They each experience and show their love of nature in their own unique ways.
Everyone deserves to enjoy the great outdoors
We are no experts but one thing we know for sure is we like to get outside because we love the way it makes us feel and we believe everyone deserves that same privilege. We love the fresh air and the beautiful landscapes. We love the feeling of peace and safety the mountains bring us and enjoy sharing that love with our community. Of These Mountains is a group of "outsiders" who aspire to inspire people to get outside and enjoy this beautiful place we call home. We are still a work in progress, but we hope to one day create a community and space of inclusivity where everyone feels they belong.