I went on a rock climbing adventure yesterday. Well okay, it wasn’t actual rocks; I went to one of those rock wall places for a few hours with my family. But it still counts as an adventure in my book because I had never done it before and I was nervous about trying it. You see, I am one of those people who loves adventure and hates failure. Far too often, my disdain for failure turns me into a person who doesn’t actually love adventure, but just loves the idea of it; I hate that too. And ideas pale in comparison to actions, so following that path can never satisfy an adventurous spirit.
This brings me to my ongoing struggle: how do I balance love of adventure and loathe of failure? Can I hang on to both? Is there a way to be adventurous and avoid the risk of failure at the same time? The answer, of course, is no. I can’t. If I want to be the adventurous soul I was created to be, I cannot hang on to my fear. If I choose to hang onto the fear, I will have to deny that part of me that longs to experience all of the new, exciting and challenging things this world has to offer. In theory and on paper, the choice is obvious; but in practice, well that’s where things get difficult.
As I mentioned, I hate failure. I don’t like to make mistakes, look stupid, mess up or get hurt. When we planned the rock wall adventure, that little voice inside my head, the one that likes to protect me from failing, started to whisper. “You can’t do that. You’ll get hurt. Your too old and out of shape. You’re too heavy, maybe after you lose some weight. If you fail, people will laugh.” But, I have promised that I will do things my kids want to try this summer, so I did my best to ignore that pesky (and rude) voice. Every time I thought about it, that little tremble of fear would show up and the voice would have something to say. When the day finally arrived I wondered if I could go through with it. Even while standing there in a t-shirt, leggings and rented climbing shoes I wasn’t sure. (And wearing that outfit was not helping the situation. As the voice mentioned, I’m a little on the “curvy” side, so that added a dose of self-consciousness to the mix.) But I managed to to tell that little fear monger to shut up and I went for it.
Guess what happened. On my first attempt, I got part way up the wall and fell. And then guess what happened. Nothing. My husband, who was on belay for me, kept me aloft. Other than scuffing my knee on the wall I didn’t get hurt. And nobody laughed. So that joy stealing fear and worry was absolutely pointless. After that, it was pretty easy. Not climbing, that crap is hard! It was easy to let go of the fear, I had already failed on my first attempt so I had nothing more to lose. Also, since I hate losing, I’m not a quitter. I wasn’t about to let the wall beat me. I tried again, made it to the top a couple of times and even stretched myself to attempt a climb that required all the push I had in me. I didn’t make it to the top of that wall, but it’s okay, maybe next time.
My rock wall adventure provided me with a good reminder of lessons that I should have learned long ago: Don’t give into fear. If I don’t try, I’ve already failed. Success and failure go hand in hand; if I’m not willing to risk failure, I’ll never achieve success.
Here’s hoping the lessons all stick this time!