Imposter Syndrome


I'm sitting here writing this after a frankly incredible week thus far. That's the pile of ribbons and rosettes and prizes next to me - and that's actually not everything (I should probably donate some of the ribbons back to the club). That's my view and yet I feel terrible about my accomplishments today.


I don't struggle with imposter syndrome very often. I've accomplished a huge amount of breed firsts, my dogs are healthy and well-adjusted, I'm making a living off my own training business, I have a wonderful husband, and dog tolerant family. Anubi and Amidi rang in the New Year by taking Best in Show Brace. Amalu is a new UKC Champion. Anubi got his first Qualifying Score in Agility in Novice FAST yesterday. I am incredibly lucky. But, I still sometimes have trouble seeing the forest for the trees.


Today, I got to the Agility venue and found out that we got a Non-Qualifying score on our Novice Standard course after the judge had told me yesterday that we Q'd. Anubi just said "No" to running agility so I scratched him for his second run. Plus, I ended up pulling a muscle in my calf. Amidi can't seem to get put up in Group, despite showing beautifully and no one I've talked to has been able to puzzle out why she's not getting put up. I'm having to manage an intact male with an in season female in a hotel room. I have to go back to work on Monday after two weeks off, and while I love my job, I'm not looking forward to it. Does any of that matter long term? No, not at all, but it means I'm definitely feeling a bit inadequate at the moment.


This isn't a cry for attention or validation. When I sit myself down and look at the facts, I can shake myself out of feeling like I'm just pretending. But it is still a feeling that has one hundred percent been fostered by every male boss whose called me honey or taken something out of my hands that was "too heavy". It's fostered every time I walk out of the ring with an NQ and someone tells me that my dog did great...for a sighthound. It's fostered every time a judge tells me in panic: "hold the head!" when my friendly girl noses their hand to solicit pats. It's fostered every time a client takes the leash from my hand to tell me what I'm doing wrong and that I "can't handle" this dog.


Every single person that I deeply respect and admire struggles with feeling inadequate, like they are just pretending to be good enough at their chosen activity (be it hobby or profession or relationship). All of those people are people with impressive accomplishments to their name, and by that, I don't just mean dog titles, having normal well-mannered dogs is a huge accomplishment. Having functional, solid relationships or a rewarding career is a huge accomplishment. All of those people are people with tangible goals who seek to perfect their chosen art. And all of them sometimes fail to meet those goals. I fail to meet those goals.


I was the worst kind of perfectionist when I was a kid - the kind who didn't want to do certain things if it was likely that I'd fail. It's something I've personally worked hard on. And I know that if I go into a trial or show with zero expectations both my dogs and I perform so much better. But that's hard to do. And it's so much easier to settle into a routine of setting goals, not meeting them, and then beating myself up about it.


So tomorrow, I go into the ring with my little girl who is honestly showing her heart out and if she doesn't get put up, it's okay. She doesn't have anything to prove. I don't have anything to prove either. And maybe if I tell myself that's enough then I'll believe it and stop comparing myself to everyone else, to my incredibly talented friends and mentors. The fact that Ami even enjoys showing is a huge accomplishment for an Azawakh. And sometimes things just don't go our way. But that doesn't mean I'm handling or presenting my dog poorly, and that's a realization that is still new enough that I'll keep reminding myself of it until it sticks.


You're not alone. You don't need to meet anyone else's goals to be good enough. You don't even need to meet your own goals to be good enough. You're not just pretending to be good enough. Enjoying yourself and improving yourself and your craft is good enough. You are good enough.


My reminder to take a breath and just love my dogs and all our time together.

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