Climbing past my confidence crisis

About 4 years ago a friend of mine said she wanted to go indoor climbing. I had done a bit of sport climbing before, so I said I would go along with her.

She arranged to meet me at the bouldering centre in Edinburgh. I wasn’t very impressed – I didn’t like bouldering, I was into sport climbing with ropes! Anyway, not to be a negative Nikki I was bright and enthusiastic. Low wall climbing is highly technical and demanding on the fingers and toes.

I didn’t really enjoy it but kept going along because her drive was infectious. Well, that was until she hurt her ankle and couldn’t go anymore. I thought about not going back but I had got into a routine, and the other folks that went there were really nice and I enjoyed the chat.

During this time I was also going through a transition, I had just started a new role at work. It was challenging and my confidence was not feeling it. I was constantly comparing myself to others and questioned most decisions I made.

I went bouldering four times a week after work – it gave me a focus away from work where I had to problem solve. You see bouldering is like playing chess, you have to anticipate your next move or you risk been stuck with nowhere to go or being thrown off the wall.

Now aside from the increased strength in my fingers and toes, what else did I get out of it? It helped me through my confidence crisis, I was able to apply the problem solving to work situations where I had to be methodical, sometimes take a leap of faith, and at other times land on my backside and get back up and start again.

It also gave me the confidence to find my own way of doing things. I’m a bit off the wall and that, I realised, is part of my individuality.

One day I went climbing and was doing quite a difficult move, I kept falling off and the lactic acid was burning through my arms. I looked at the move, laughed and walked away. I didn’t like bouldering, and I was no longer going to do something I didn’t like doing – I had got what I needed out of it and it was time to move on.

The point wasn’t about doing something super difficult, it was about doing something I didn’t want to do. Something I knew, deep down, would support my mental health. I think this is common with exercise and activity – it is not always about what you do, it is about what you get out of it.

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