We All Have It
I recently returned home from a stellar climbing trip to Indian Creek, UT. Not only was the adventure a memorable one because of the strong mentors I shared it with who doubled as bomber rope guns, but also for the fact I was able to introduce my best friend from college to the world of outdoor climbing. The challenge at first recognized is that I am blending experienced mentors of mine with a complete newbie. I was curious as to how such a mix would turn out and my friends did not disappoint. The ultimate lesson I walked away with from the weekend is this; we all have fear. Whether you're a professional athlete or an east coast fashion girl wanting to learn to backpack, we all have face the emotion of fear. What sets us a part is how we face it and admitting that we do.
While at Indian Creek, I'll admit I threw my college friend into the fire a little. She endured her first; multi-pitch climb, crack climb, belay with a grigri, repel (free hanging I might add) and also a King Swing. All within three days. Oops.
Now for some people, such a bombardment of discomfort would've been unenjoyable and possibly caused some conflict. Luckily, that's not how my friend saw it. Instead, she faced each challenge with such bravery and endearment that I can't help be admire her strength. On the top of the first pitch of a three pitch route which was climbing an arch and felt exposed on both sides, we gave her the option; "Ok, you can bail now and we can lower you off this anchor. Or you have to go to the top and repel down. It's totally your choice but those are the two options". Most people experiencing her level of discomfort would've most likely lowered and accepted it. She was obviously nervous but after a moment of looking around and giggling from awkwardness, she said "no, I got this. You guys will keep me safe, right?".
Shortly after this moment, we had set her up on her first King Swing through the very arch we just climbed. When she first jumped, she shouted several profanities and claimed we were dead to her. Yet once the endurance kicked in and the rope caught her swing, she shouted with joy an exclaimed "This is the best day of my life!"
Not only was it my friends bravery and outlook towards fear that helped her conquer these discomforts and learn new skills, but it was also the encouragement and honesty of those around her. Two of my mentors showed her the same kindness and patience while on the learning curve as was once shown to me. In fact, they shared their own stories of fear and their first time doing the exact activities she was. Admitting that they also were scared, nervous and afraid and comforting that there is nothing wrong with that.
Not only did these mentors morally help the situation, they also faced challenges new to them. One lead her first ever trad climb while the other completed his first ever 5.11 trad. These are huge accomplishments and I guarantee they were nervous and afraid before starting. Yet they both looked at their routes, starred them in the face and said, "I'm going to climb you".
Once when I went to yoga, the teacher said one of my favorite statements that stuck with me long after class. She said "don't do compare-asna. Just do what feels comfortable to you not the person next to you". I take that lesson and apply it to all areas of my life. Nowadays, especially with the influence of social media and more, it is easy to compare ourselves to those around us. I'm guilty of it. I'm always scrolling through Instagram thinking; "Why can't I climb like Alex Honnold?", "I'll never be as good of a photographer as Jimmy Chin..." "Man, she is so pretty. I wish I looked like her." "My body doesn't look nearly as fit as that girl. I'm so overweight."
We all have these thoughts, reservations, fears and doubts. Yet how we face them, how we quiet them and how we overcome them is what makes us stronger. Don't compare yourself to others, just go find your mountain or trail or whatever the hell you want to conquer and get after it. The only thing holding you back is you.