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Imposter Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome

Have you ever felt like you don’t ‘belong’ at a climbing wall?

Have you ever hesitated to call yourself a climber?

Do you brush off good climbing days as ‘luck’?

You may be feeling the effects of ‘imposter syndrome’.

Today our writer Roxy Barry shares her experiences of Imposter Syndrome and some of the ways she has overcome the challenges associated with feeling inadequate, not good enough and not part of the community.

When it comes to feeling like you don’t fit, I’ve been there – and I know others have too. These feelings can be quite common – especially when you first get in to climbing. You’re not alone, and you do belong

For the first few years when I started climbing, calling myself a ‘climber’ felt wrong and sometimes I felt out of place at the wall. Sure, I was heading down to the gym semi-regularly, and I’d been outside a few times – but I wasn’t ‘good’ at climbing. I wasn’t climbing super hard routes, so how could I call myself a climber? These thought processes are unhealthy and unhelpful – and I know that now. Who cares what grade I climb?

'Grades don’t make you more or less of a climber and only really matter if you’re gunning to become a competitive athlete.' Roxy Barry

On the other hand, when I started improving and climbed something hard, at the top end of my grade capabilities, I’d play it down. I say ‘it was soft for the grade’ or that the style of climbing was suited to my style or build – which somehow made it count less. Again – this isn’t healthy. We need to celebrate our successes and not downplay them – if you achieve something, recognise what an amazing badass you are and continue! And if someone complements you, say thank you… and nothing else! Try this out. At first it can seem awkward, but when you practice, as with anything, it becomes easier and natural.

How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

It’s easy to say these thought processes aren’t helpful, but, practically, how can we deal with them? I am going to share with you some tried and tested methods that I’ve used to help me along the way. I’m not the finished article, but who is? These are the key strategies that have helped me:

Redefine Success

Sometimes, just making it down to the wall is a success for me. In what other ways can you define a ‘successful’ time climbing?

Revise your 'Self-Talk'

To me, a good climber is a safe climber, or a friendly and supportive partner who you’ll have a really fun session with – no matter what you physically achieve. Remember to talk to yourself about these things in the way you would to someone you care about.


When you’re feeling the ‘imposter’ effects, remind yourself what a badass you are – I remind myself that I love climbing, and that’s all that matters.


Speak to your climbing pals about these feelings; if they know how you’re feeling, they’ll be able to support you better.

Find a Kind Tribe

Climb with the right people: supportive and fun people who don’t make you feel like shit!


Most importantly, be kind to yourself.

It ain’t easy, but give it time – and have fun! The more we get used to calling ourselves climbers and feeling like we belong in the climbing community and the more we encourage and accept others to do the same – the better our climbing community will be for it. Which one of these will you use today? Choose one and leave us a comment to let us know how it went.

If you want to find a group of people who will support you, then you can become a Womenclimb Member. We have meets coming up throughout the year around the UK. The meet-ups include people at all levels of climbing, so take a look at our events and find your tribe.

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