I’ve been on vacation in the Outer Banks, NC, and so far it’s been absolutely amazing. My last rest week from climbing was way back in March, and this break has been long overdue. Since I have a terrible time forcing myself to take week long rests like this when I am close to my home gym, leaving Richmond is the only way I will take one unless my coaches mandate a rest. Rest weeks at home are a torture, but I’ve been surprised at how much fun I’ve been having off the walls here at the beach. During this break, I have noticed a few ways that I have been physically and mentally refreshed and strengthened.
While here, I have noticed how much climbing has increased my self-confidence and helped me expel irrational fears. As some of my close friends may know, as of a few years ago, I was a big fat chicken. Attempting anything close to the edge of my comfort zone was out of the question, and that included jumping off the diving board at the pool. No, not the high dive… just the diving board. I know, I was a really pathetic fourteen year old. I also disliked pushing myself physically in any way, shape, or form, and had never truly participated in any sport. Yet all that changed from the day I started climbing. I was obsessed with climbing from the start, addicted to the thrill of climbing higher, the fight of pushing my body harder, the rush of adrenaline coursing through the new climber. I had never realized what my mind and body could do, and it was exhilarating testing my limits. Since then I have learned to lead climb and have experienced the feeling of utter terror… and have learned to fight back and conquer it. Now, a little over one year later, remaining inside my comfort zone feels wrong- stretching my limits seems right. My body is so much stronger than I ever believed it could be, and getting stronger still. I have a confidence in myself that I never dreamed I would have, and I am finding that this confidence not only relates to climbing, but to all of life as well. Above all things, I used to be terrified of the water. If the water was not calm, and I could not stand, then it was too deep, period. Even before I started climbing, I partially overcame that fear, but was still wary of the ocean. Now, after a year of pushing myself in ways that I never have before, I have faced the ocean once more, and have found in it, like the rock wall, an opponent worthy of testing my physical and mental limits. And doing so is exhilarating. Striding through the waves with my boogie board, I once again find myself in that awesome place between lazily comfortable and scared, and attribute that inner strength to rock climbing.
When I return to Richmond, just in time for the true start of competitive season training, I know that I will be ready for a new challenge. Refreshed from throwing myself into new surroundings and new challenges, and from testing my limits through new experiences, I will be happy to again find myself in that awesome yet uncomfortable place between scared and confident doing the sport I love best- rock climbing.