I had this teacher in high school who said he went into teaching because he was always scared of public speaking, and he tries to do things he’s scared of.

I don’t think about much from high school. It wasn’t exactly my favorite period of my life. But I think about this statement a lot.

Most of us tend to avoid the things we are scared of, myself included. I hate talking on the phone, especially to people I don’t know, so if I have to call someone, I’ll put it off as long as I possibly can. I definitely scared of public speaking. Basically, I’m scared of any social situation in which I don’t know people, and even when I do, I don’t like being the center of attention. I’m scared of failure, of being the worst or the slowest, of disappointing people, of trying to fix something and not doing it right and making a situation worse. And I’m pretty f-ing scared of heights.

I’ve always been intrigued by rock climbing/bouldering. I did it a few times as a kid, at various adventure camps that I went to. I went to the indoor rock gym with my cousins a number of times when I went to go visit, because that was something they were really into. Almost two years ago, Evan and I moved within a couple miles of some really great bouldering spots that are super popular with the local climbing crowd. If I didn’t take advantage of this opportunity, I was just dumb.

So I went bouldering a few times with people. My friend Erica even gave me a pair of rock climbing shoes that were too small for her. Now I really didn’t have an excuse.

Except for all my fears.

Like heights. And failure. And social situations.

Bouldering is often a group activity. Sure, it can be a great solo activity too, but especially when first starting out, it’s helpful to have someone to help you figure out where to place your hands and feet, and move the crash pad with you, and spot you so that you don’t impale yourself on the tree with spiky limbs sticking out of it that’s laying on the ground a few feet from where you’re climbing.

So, that means going with other people. And other people sometimes make me nervous, especially when they’re all sitting around watching you climb.

And then there’s the fact that as soon as I get higher than 3  or 4 feet off the ground I start to shake.

There are a lot of things about rock climbing that scare me. But I think that’s all the more reason to do it. How else will I conquer my fear of heights, or other people watching me, or being a beginner?

So I will continue to climb. I will continue to strive to do things that terrify me. And I will try to conquer my fears, one step at a time.

Topping out. Photo: Marci Chamberlain


4 Replies to “Conquering.”

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