You’ve Got This!

By Gabby Vera, CPRP | Posted on October 27, 2023

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Pictured: Gabby Vera, CPRP, Regional Park Superintendent for Maricopa County Parks and Recreation, presents You’re a Supervisor – What the Rec Now?! session to attendees at the 2023 NRPA Annual Conference in Dallas.

Most times, our own worst enemy is ourselves. Being a young professional, especially a young leader, can be daunting. It's important to remember that you are in the position you are in for a reason. Someone believed in you, so you should start believing in yourself, too! Let’s explore practical strategies to boost self-confidence, overcome imposter syndrome, and thrive in your leadership journey.

Recognize Your Achievements

It can be difficult to recognize some of the amazing things we have achieved. Acknowledging your accomplishments is one of the first steps in overcoming imposter syndrome and boosting self-confidence. As young leaders, we feel like we haven't done enough or aren’t as experienced as we should be. I want you to take a step back and reflect on your journey so far. Remember that at one point in time, you were hoping to be in the exact position you are currently in. Celebrate your successes, no matter how small you think they may seem. Each achievement is another step towards your future and the leader you are meant to be.  

Find a Mentor

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! As young leaders, we believe we are expected to know everything when that’s not the case. Reach out to experienced colleagues in the field. Use your resources. Mentors can provide valuable insight, advice, support and reassurance. Engaging with a mentor can help you gain perspective and insight into how others have gotten to where they are now.  

Continue Learning

In today’s world, information is at our disposal. We should be embracing continuous learning. As a young leader, we have the advantage of accessibility. Knowledge is right at our fingertips — literally. Invest in your personal and professional growth. Read books, articles and blogs. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks. Sign up for workshops (in-person or virtual), conferences and courses. The more you immerse yourself in learning, the more confident you will become in your professional and leadership abilities.  

Silence Your Inner Critic

Silence your inner critic; they don’t know what they are talking about! Imposter syndrome often stems from self-doubt and that irritating inner critic. Challenge those negative thoughts by focusing on your strengths and what you bring to the table. Another way to combat that awful bully in your head is to list off your achievements and remind yourself of what you are capable of. Remember, you are in the position you are in for a reason. Someone believed in you, so do yourself a favor and believe in yourself too.  

Set Goals

Set realistic and achievable goals for yourself. Make sure your goals align with your career aspirations. Your goals may include developing new and engaging programs/events for your community, becoming a Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP), or even speaking at the NRPA Annual Conference. As you achieve the goals you’ve set for yourself, not only will your confidence naturally increase, but you will establish your credibility as a leader and professional.  

Embrace Failure

Failure is a natural part of life and embracing it as a learning opportunity is important. Don’t let failure defeat you or set you back. Failure is a tool; use it as such. Analyze, regroup, figure out what went wrong and what went well. Then, continue moving forward and make improvements where needed. If you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying.  

Give Yourself Grace

We seem to treat others so much better than we treat ourselves. You deserve to treat yourself with kindness and understanding just as you would the people closest to you. Give yourself grace. Remember that making mistakes, feeling unsure and lacking confidence are completely normal. Having self-compassion will help ease the pressure you’ve put on yourself. No one is perfect! Stop acting like you have to be.  

You have the potential to achieve remarkable things in your career; don’t let imposter syndrome or lack of self-confidence hinder that. Going forward, use these practical strategies in your professional and personal journeys. You are in your position for a reason. Believe in yourself, celebrate your achievements, and continue learning and growing. No one’s journey is linear, and the ups and downs are what make life interesting. Remember — You’ve got this!

What are some of the challenges you face as a leader when it comes to imposter syndrome, your inner critic, or self-confidence? Let’s get the conversation going in the comments below!

Gabby Vera, CPRP (she/her), is the regional park superintendent of Maricopa County Parks and Recreation. Connect with Gabby on LinkedIn.

This blog post was written in partnership with the NRPA Young Professionals Network (YPN). Learn more about the NRPA YPN on NRPA Connect or on the YPN Facebook group.