“I can’t do this. I can’t do this. ICANTDOTHIS. This is crazy!” I had never been the adventurous or sporty child growing up and it was all too counterintuitive for me at the age of twenty-five to one, look at a wall and think, “yeah, I think I’ll climb that” and, two, put all of my trust on a single, thin rope. What if the rope snaps? What if the person on the other end belaying gets distracted? What if I’m just not cut out for this sport? After all, in the beginning, I was not even close to being physically and much less mentally prepared for what this sport demands. I have been climbing for almost a year and now while I trust the ropes and the belayer, I still ask myself the same tough questions I faced that first day on the wall: Who do I think I am? How did I get to this point? Do I want to continue though filled with much doubt?
Like many other Millennials, I am constantly asking myself the age-old question, “Who am I?” Am I a woman? Am I an American? Am I a Guatemalan? Am I a student? A daughter? A sister? A lover? A friend? My road to self-discovery had been a turbulent one during my college years trying to answer those questions but now as I try to maneuver past the crux of a problem, the better question of character rather than trivial details come to mind, “Who do I think I am?” Am I strong? Am I fearless? Persistent? Committed? Brave? The beauty of the climbing community is that everyone is incredibly over-the-moon supportive of one another and their answer to all my questions was, YES! With practice I have gotten mentally stronger where in times of doubt, it becomes easier to remind myself that the body achieves what the mind believes.
…It becomes easier to remind myself that the body achieves what the mind believes.
There are moments though where no matter how hard I believe I can overcome a crux, it’s just doesn’t happen. Staring at the wall as I come off it I can only ask, “how did I get to this point? And do I want to continue though I’m filled with much doubt?” In the earlier points of my climbing experience it was a bad habit of mine to look around me and compare myself to others. “She’s better than me, she’s better than me, he’s better than me, those kids over there are better than me…” The list was endless and so was my anxiety about becoming a better climber. Better- I wanted, needed, had to become better. Why? Because I felt that everyone around me could see how little I was achieving. I had made my climbing about everyone else but me. That’s where I stayed for almost half a year and of course during that time I made no progress with my climbing. I just kept coming off the walls unsure of how I got to this point in my climbing where there was very little of it happening.
It’s not a race. That has always been the hardest concept for me to grasp and not because I want to be the better than everyone else but because I don’t want to get left behind. It’s not a race. That has always been the hardest concept for me to grasp because it has always been too easy for me to compare myself to others. It’s not a race. It’s not a race. It’s not a race. It’s about me. I need to climb for myself because nobody else will. I need to climb for myself because I am the only one who can make it happen. It was only with this shift in mentality that I was able to get past my early beginner’s plateau; but as I continue to make progress, I still ask myself the same tough questions I faced that first day on the wall. This is who I am now. This is how I got to this point. I will always continue, even in times where I am filled with much doubt.