In 2013, I went through a nasty breakup. It left me feeling really stuck in my life and I didn't feel motivated to do anything.
However, one day I decided to go to Spooky Nook Sports and try rock climbing while on a blind date. I had no idea what I was doing and wouldn't even pay the extra $4 to get climbing shoes. I got hooked to an auto-belay and they let me loose on the walls. I didn’t know about settings back then, I didn't know what the tape meant, all I knew is I wanted to get to the top.
. . . The only problem was that I wasn’t athletic at all and I was afraid of heights. It was so difficult. My hands were shaking but I was sick of being the girl who didn't take chances so I kept pushing.
I probably looked ridiculous but when I got to the top and the instructor said "now let go," something truly changed in me. I felt like I had overcome being "stuck" and I have never stopped pushing since! The blind date didn't work out but I fell in love with climbing.
A friend took me to a local rock climbing gym a year after we graduated high school. I was hesitant to go at first because of my lack of upper body strength but went anyway.
He showed me around, introduced me to the people, and he later got me on the bouldering walls. I remember struggling mad hard on a V0 and I kept trying it over and over again taking little to no break (everybody was doing a core workout so walls were empty).
This, I believe, is the time climbing "clicked." Over the course of three months I have invested in a membership and my own gear, and I was climbing three times a week while balancing college. Four months in, I decided to get a job at the same gym. Today, I still work at the rock gym. I love to share my knowledge and experience of climbing to new people and kids. I try to climb as frequently as possible whether it's inside or outside.
The first time I went rock climbing, it was at the Columbia, Maryland Earth Treks when I was in sixth grade. I don't think I was in the mindset at that point in my life to really understand what it meant to commit myself to something, especially something that required a lot of practice and patience. I remember giving up as soon as I would fall, even when I could have easily made a second attempt to make it to the top of the climb.
Flash forward 10 years and I now have a membership to the same climbing gym. I've only been a member for three months now, but I now get excited to try climbs again and again until I am successful. I even seek out climbs that are overhung—climbs I wouldn't have even thought about trying a few months ago because of my fear of falling.
I'm not the most confident, I'm not the most strategic, and I'm definitely not the strongest, but the thing is, I don't have to be. At the end of the day, no matter my skill set, I just love climbing. It has given me an outlet to not only learn about my physical strengths and weaknesses, but also my mental ones. I'm excited to continue to grow as a climber, and maybe even climb slopers without falling and flailing (maybe that's what I'm best at?)