Rock (climbing) and Roll(ing backwards because I’m bad at driving manual still), or On Being A Beginner.

This post is partially just me being excited about new things, and partially a deep expression about overcoming fear.

Heights have never been my thing. Since the first moment I stepped onto a challenge course, though, I’ve known that if I was going to make it as a recreation professional (or even through my challenge course programming class), I was going to have to face a lot of fears that I had. Many of my childhood fears were conquered quickly: bugs, talking to strangers, leaving my mom for an overnight trip. Others remained. A great fear of falling has affected my life and my ability to try new things. It has always been difficult for me to be a beginner. A lot of events between then and now have both been affected by and affected this fear itself. Mountain biking, cross country skiing, snowboarding, climbing, and surfing had all been tried and nearly abandoned due to my discomfort in being a beginner. Many encouraging words were said in all of these experiences, but the one that truly has stuck and continues to resonate in my mind was this: “If you aren’t falling, you aren’t trying hard enough.”

When I started climbing, it was because I had to. For my challenge course programming class, we were required to get belay certified at the university’s climbing wall. To do this, I needed a partner who would climb while I belayed and vice versa. That day was also the first day that I had been physically strong enough to make it to the top of a rock wall (on a 5.6 route, but that’s beside the point…) To earn the actual certification, we were required to belay on ten separate days. If I was going to belay, I might as well climb, right?

Fast forward to 2015. This job in California has perks that include a free membership to a local climbing gym. I began with top roping, as that was the type of climbing that I am the most comfortable with. There is equipment there to catch you when you fall. The bouldering section of any gym had always been one that I would avoid, due to its lack of equipment and farther distance to fall. Somehow, that discomfort made it my goal to become a better boulderer.

If you aren’t falling, you aren’t trying hard enough.

One day last weekend, I actually fell from the top of a bouldering route. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would have been, and since that moment, top roping has sunk to second on my list of favorites. Shredding my hands on natural rock at Joshua Tree this past weekend has only solidified that distinction. We are returning to Joshua Tree next weekend for more climbing and camping, and I am so excited. I hope that I fall. I hope that my hands bleed and I hope that I challenge my body and my mind, because if you aren’t falling, you aren’t trying hard enough.

I spent a fair amount of my childhood in fear, and I am psyched to live the rest of my life having fun.

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