To get us started, an employee gets us into our harness, goes through a quick safety routine and gives us some climbing tips (both of which I barely listen to because I'm distracted by the rock walls), and gets us started on an easy first climb.
Rachael goes first and champs it. She ascends effortlessly and in the back of my mind I'm hoping I look just as good on my turn. Fortunately, this first climb was more of a "feeling out" climb, and I had zero problems navigating the route. Also, this first wall was not as high as the others we would be climbing, being only about 25 feet. So, the fear of heights was not yet a factor. Our next climb though was going to be much more challenging.
We were told the next route was only slightly harder, but we could see it was about two and a half times higher. Rachael goes first again and instantly impresses the employee who is belaying us. He shouts out instructions, but it seems like she doesn't even need them. When she reaches the top she leans back away from wall and is lowered down to the ground. She smiles and says it was harder, but I don't believe her. Ok, again it’s my turn.
I start climbing and at first it seems effortless. Then as I reach about two thirds of the way up, I can't find a foothold. As soon as I peak down at my feet in an attempt to find one, I notice how high up I am. Holy shit that's high! All of a sudden I notice my forearms burning and my heart beating faster. Panicking, I think I'm in trouble. I hear instructions being shouted to me for my next move. Regain your focus, I tell myself. Now I listen intently to what my next move should be. With determination I listen, move, and continue to climb. When I reach the top and it's a rush. As I get lowered down, I can't wait to start the next climb.
We did 2 more climbs after that, each one with a new level of difficulty. We got a chance to climb funky angles and scary heights. With each climb, we also had to combat our screaming muscles. When we finally left the gym, I felt like I was on a climbing high for hours. To think just this morning I had never done this before and now I’m hooked. I proved to myself how essential it is to try new things. To be a total beginner at something is exciting, nerve racking, a struggle, but also rewarding. If I had let my fear of heights have power over my day, I would not have known what it was like to reach the top of the wall. Being scared is not easy, but I believe we should embrace these feelings and not run from them. Use them to push you through your fear. Rachael even said she never looked down, thinking her fear would stop her from climbing. I would have never known!
Learning new things and trying new things always keeps my mind stimulated. I try to seek out these opportunities. When was the last time you gave something ALL of your attention, or you were totally immersed into what you were doing? When I don't know what I’m doing, I tend to listen more carefully and become totally engaged, like when I was two stories up and felt stuck on the wall. Or when Rachael introduced me to Ultimate Frisbee and I spent days on my own learning how to throw and how to play the game. She even dragged me on a 10 mile hike through a Hawaiian volcano when I had never gone hiking before. It was a pivotal moment for me when I finally reached the summit—exhausted, sweaty, but empowered. In these moments of struggle, you must give it your all.
I never want the excuse, “I don’t know how” or “I’ve never done that” to rule my life. I believe that continuing to challenge yourself with new adventures and activities will greatly improve your life. Even if it’s just to prove something to you and no one else. You'll learn more about yourself and hell, you may even surprise yourself. So give yourself that chance.