In a world of success stories and triumphs, it can be hard to feel like you’re trying hard enough. It can be hard to feel like you are valid in feeling burn-out when so many others seem to push through and change the world. People always say that your hardship is still hardship even if others have it worse…I’m not convinced that is true, but at the end of the day I’m not sure anybody would really want to walk more than a mile in another’s shoes, and I don’t think anyone can be a better version of you than you.
For whatever reason, sometimes we just don’t have the interest in climbing. How can we not feel guilty about that when there are so many people who have to fight so much harder to get on the wall? A little while ago, I heard that a blind man made history after sending a 5.14 (or something close) outside. I remember thinking how this feat wasn’t impressive because the climber was blind…let’s face it, most of us will never send that hard…but you would think being blind would have made it impossible for him. I mean, I have perfect vision and I can’t always find the right holds on some warm-ups. Incredible stories like these can make it hard to take the first step in getting your stoke back: acceptance. Not to worry, here is a guide to get through losing stoke:
We want people to keep pushing and accomplish amazing things, but it’s helpful to remember that these people are human, too. No one is going to make the news on a failed send attempt; no one is going to post about skipping the gym…but you better believe you’ll hear when someone sets a new speed record on El Cap. What I mean to say is that you don’t have to live an Under Armour commercial all of the time. Not even most of the time. Not ever. That doesn’t make you ungrateful, and that doesn’t mean you’re wasting your abilities. It just means that something else in your life needs attention. The sooner you stop putting yourself down, the sooner you can get back up.
Alright, so now you’ve accepted your stoke loss. Take some time to do what you feel like doing. At first you might be a lazy blob, but then you’ll feel pulled toward something. It might be art, music, lettuce, driving, animals, literature…truly anything. Explore this and see why it is you were drawn to…this may tell you what was missing before.
Now it’s time to get you exposed to climbing again. We’ll start small. Choose one day where you can make the time to get on the wall. As soon as you have momentum (perhaps after coming home from school/work), pack up your climbing stuff and set it out. Later, when you feel like bailing, you’ll already have everything ready to go and in your way. As my dad has always told me, make a deal with yourself where you’re allowed to leave after five minutes. The clock starts when you walk in. Do anything. A warm-up is probably a good idea. If you want to leave five minutes later, leave. If not (the more likely option), stay, and the rest of your session is just extra. Low commitment, high reward.
If the previous step is working out for you, let’s up the ante. We’re going to add in some commitment. Set up a session with a friend. It doesn’t have to be crazy…just make plans to climb together. Now you can’t bail.
Now maybe…just maybe…you almost feel excited to go climb? Like you might actually have fun? Ease into it…but follow your intuition and send! No matter what, remember why you lost stoke in the first place, and remember what you wanted to do instead of climbing…chances are you still need to keep up with it one way or another.
When in doubt, just remember that your mind & body are on your side (even if they don’t always act like it), and if something feels wrong, it probably is.