photo cred to Lucy
You know how sometimes you really need to clean your room, but you have just gone so long not cleaning it that now the mess is enormous and you don’t know where to start, so you just don’t?
That’s how I’ve been feeling about this post. There are so many things I want to write about that I don’t know how to start, so instead I have just not.
But I guess I must begin somewhere… do you want a list? Here, have a list:
Recent Climbing Trips + Lessons
Little Rock City — Guacamole is not send food.
Castle Rock — Leading is still scary.
Rocktown — Roofs and pit bulls have much in common.
But I’d like to steer this blog away from simply being a narrative of my weekend adventures. I recently made a list of my climbing-related writing ideas, and I’m honestly not as interested in recounting my latest lead freakout as I am in some ~*~introspective musing~*~.
Some introspective musing
I’ve been thinking about expectations recently. I usually go to the crag vaguely planning to try hard and have a good time. Hopefully I will send something, but if I don’t (and let’s be honest, I probably won’t), it will still be a great day. I think this is generally a good approach; climbing is my “fun” thing. It’s not supposed to stress me out. If I let myself get too worked up about not sending a certain problem or climbing a certain grade yet, I’m doing it wrong. Right?
But I have friends who honestly expect to send something every time they go out, and who are genuinely surprised if they don’t. That blows my mind a little bit. Like, rock climbing is so. hard. And yet people have enough confidence in their own strength, stamina and masochism that they actually expect to succeed? Maybe my attitude is wronger (it’s a word!) than I thought.
Don’t get me wrong: there are certainly projects I feel I “should” have finished long ago, like Golden Showers at Rocktown (V5) and Swingers at Stone Fort (V3). And I definitely want to send — but it’s not so much an expectation as a hope.
I definitely had a phase in which I put way too much pressure on myself. When I first started climbing, I was very concerned with jumping through the grades, and I had this weird pride thing about working “easy” problems, even if they weren’t easy for me. (Need I remind you of my Pancake Lament?) I would even get so frustrated about not being strong enough for certain moves in the gym that instead of working on something easier or trying the next part of the problem, I would just leave. How’s that for training beta?
I think part of my frustration was that when I began climbing outside, it wasn’t with other beginners; it was with burly dudes who projected nines. I compared my abilities to theirs, but I didn’t appreciate that they had put in years of hard work and patience to get that strong. I expected myself to climb V5 in a year, despite the fact that I am one of the most athletically untalented people I know.
Even so, I didn’t expect to send my projects when I went out; it was more like I was nervous that I wouldn’t, and then when I didn’t, I became frustrated — despairing is a better word — by my lack of ability.
And I had this weird ethic about trying things — I wouldn’t get on a three in the gym until I’d finished all of the twos, for instance, and I would never have dreamed of attempting a four. Well, then I spent most of a year at V3 and found myself working sixes long before I sent any fives.
In retrospect, it seems awfully silly; when I started climbing, I was the weakest of the weak, and I had less bodily awareness than a 12 year old boy. I could barely unscrew a peanut butter lid. I opened “pull” doors by gripping the handle with both hands and leaning back on my heels with all my body weight. I lacked the hand-eye coordination to catch a basketball from 10 feet away, and I truly could not walk a straight line. Why I expected to be some kind of rock-spider prodigy is beyond me.
Well, I am way less intense about climbing now. And I enjoy it a lot more!
Still. I wonder if my expectations have gotten too low. I’m not questioning my level of effort! But I wonder if I am setting myself up for failure by not having a specific expectation of ascent. Am I subconsciously disparaging my abilities as I assure myself that any performance is acceptable?
Hanging with friends in the woods is great. But sending is awesome, and maybe my real best is a little bit better than the best I tell myself is okay. Still, I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself and revert to being the high-strung, stressed-out, grade-chasing crybaby I have definitely been. I guess that, like many things in life and climbing, it’s all about finding balance. I’ll let you in on the beta when I figure it out.