I came across this post on Facebook this morning and I love it! It’s one of the things I love about the community of women climbers around here.
I know some people complain that women can be really competitive. I don’t doubt this, but I think the above meme captures the problem succinctly- it’s usually stems from insecurity. Media and advertising campaigns seem invested in making women feel insecure. We are constantly told we need to be thinner, prettier, have the right clothes, etc. for what? To get a man. To get the right man. To reach some supposed pinnacle of womanly existence where we live like a Kardashian. Yuck.
Even in sport, competition- the negative kind- is often driven by a feeling of not being ‘enough.’ That winning more, beating someone else, will somehow prove that one is enough. The problem is that there is always more to achieve and that feeling of finally being ‘enough’ is always just out of reach.
There is a positive side to ‘competition’ though. When it drives us to work harder and to do our best. When seeing someone else achieve something inspires us to re-evaluate our own perceived limits. When it builds us up.
A few weeks ago, I belayed a climbing partner on a climb. After following her on it, I started to think that perhaps I could lead it too. It was a line that always had an inexplicable pull on me, but the intimidating moves though the roof always filled me with doubt- and dread. The idea of leading it started to pulse stronger through my brain last season, but after seeing her achieve it a few weeks ago- I knew I had to reevaluate my own perceived limits.
Each time I went climbing, it called to me, but fear kept me avoiding engaging in the challenge. Yesterday, the climb nearly screamed in my brain as I made my morning coffee and roughed out a plan for the day. Being a popular climb and a beautiful fall Sunday at the Gunks, I thought (hoped) I would be saved by crowds of climbers swarming on the climb. We walked right up to it, with no one on the climb. *gulp*
That was my sign. Today was my day. My sending day.
I racked up and tried to keep calm. Not only was I going to attempt the climb, but I was going to do it as my ‘warm-up’ climb of the day. I was petrified. I kept trying to remember my ujjayi breathing from yoga class that morning. There was also the false start where I got halfway up the climb and then had to go to the bathroom so bad, I lowered off to relieved myself before getting into the crux. (There was no way I was going to be able to do the required stemming at the crux without creating a really embarrassing incident.) Thankfully, my lovely climbing partner that day was so patient and so supportive. She encouraged me to keep going, to stay calm, and to focus on one move at a time, even though she could have led the climb in half the time and with way less drama. She’s one of my favorite strong women- secure enough in her own badass-ness that she encourages it and brings it out in others- like me. 🙂
I also learned that its OK to be afraid- climbing is scary after all! But becoming a better climber is about leaning into the fear and learning when to push through it so you can come out the other side.