Judging by my very modest success on the trapeze and pole dancing, when someone suggested I try rock climbing, I was hesitant. Several of my adventures have challenged my physical capabilities, not to mention my flexibility, and while they have made for funny blog posts, they don’t do wonders for my self-confidence. But, as this blog is proof of, I am always up for a challenge. I made an appointment for a rock wall climbing lesson at Rock Spot Climbing and approached the wall with (very) low expectations. I told myself I would give it a chance (after all, that’s the most important thing, right?), fully prepared to fail.
With me I brought Arianna, a friend and co-worker, who has been up and down rock walls before. I thought this could either be a good thing — in that she would be able to give me some tips — or it would make me feel even more ridiculous when I was inevitably left confused and dangling from the roof.
We arrived, got into our harnesses, and met our teacher, Lindsay. Surprisingly, we did not start scaling the wall immediately. No, the first challenge was learning to tie knots which proved to be the most difficult part of the day. I have never been very good at knots; as a child it took me a while to relinquish my Velcro sneakers. There were a handful of knots to learn and they are all very important. In the simplest of terms they keep you and your partner from falling to your respective deaths. So no pressure! We went over the knots again and again, and I needed prompts each time. Eventually I got it, although I would still need to be reminded throughout our day on the wall. Arianna and I double checked all our “points of contact,” all the points that connect us to the harness and to the ground. As we wrapped up the knot lesson I started bouncing my feet to assess the cushiness of the mats that line the floor of the climbing gym. I wanted to know how much of my fall would be broken by this alleged padding.
As I stepped up to the wall I told myself that I would just give it a chance, and that it didn’t really matter whether or not I was proficient at climbing vertical surfaces. To my great surprise I scampered up the wall at a pretty good pace. One reason for that pace was that my hands were burning so much that I was not sure how much longer they would be able to cling to the wall. There were a few moments where I was unsure of where to place my feet, or when the next logical hand grip was just too far for me to reach, but I was climbing. I made it all the way up to the top of the wall, and looked down and was truly surprised and impressed with myself. After a few moments of hanging out at the top of the wall, savoring my success, Arianna lowered me back down to the ground and we switched positions so that she could climb. We kept climbing for more than an hour, and while I was not quite as quick or agile on any of my subsequent climbs, it didn’t dampen my glow of accomplishment from my first assent.
Surprisingly, it seems as if self-doubt is becoming a recurring theme of this blog; me resigning myself to the fact that I will be bad at something before I even try it. This is surprising because generally speaking, I don’t think I lack self-confidence (mind you, I don’t have a plethora of it either). This is something I am going to work on moving forward. The fact that I put myself in new, and sometimes ridiculously foreign situations on a weekly basis is proof of how fearless I am. You never know what you will be good at — or what you will develop a passion for — until you try.
Many thanks to Arianna Rubinstein along with Lindsay and all the folks at Rock Spot Climbing for their help. I was not compensated in any way for this post.