I’ve never been a very athletic person. Much of my childhood was spent either in bed or a comfy chair, curled up with a novel. In middle and high school, my whole goals were just to make it through P.E. classes without somehow embarrassing or injuring myself (I am, without a doubt, one of the clumsiest humans alive). I’ve tried kickboxing, I’ve tried jogging, and for a few months two years ago I was old-lady power walking on a fairly regular basis – but nothing really stuck.
Until now. My sig other introduced me to the wonder that is rock climbing (specifically bouldering), and I think I might be addicted.
Sports never were my thing. For one, I never “naturally” took to sports, so I never practiced, so I always sucked at them. I also was a nerdy kid who frantically excused my physical inabilities by believing and maintaining all the media B.S. that athletic people are idiots (on behalf of nerd-dom, sorry athletes, but let’s be fair, you got a few good ones in there too). I’m a perfectionist, holding myself and everyone around me to basically impossible standards. I hate when I make mistakes, and I hate when others make mistakes, because deep down I’m convinced that if I had the chance, I could do it better.
This doesn’t bother me in climbing. Climbing teaches me that not only is it o.k. to fall, it’s the only way to ever get better, and that’s a life lesson I still sorely need.
Climbing isn’t a group sport. It isn’t a competition (I mean, there are professionals and competitions out there, but I’m talking about the low-key essence of climbing). The only person I’m trying to beat is my past self. The only person who controls the outcome of a climb is myself. I get what I put into it – if I train, if I exercise, I can improve, do harder climbs, and accomplish cooler moves. And this has inspired me to practice not only climbing, but other areas of fitness as well – I’m now doing yoga, pilates, and resistance training, and I’ve changed my diet drastically in the last few months. My body feels good, healthy in a way it’s never felt before. My body feels attractive in a way it’s never felt before, even if the feeling is just in my head.
And that goodness transcends my time spent in the gym. That goodness makes me not only more confident in myself, but also more forgiving of my mistakes. It makes me more forgiving of others’ mistakes, as I climb alongside other beginners and we see each other’s weaknesses and work together to make them strengths. All in all, I feel like a kinder, more helpful person, and that’s a good thing.
So let’s hope this is one hobby that will stick.