In the Buttermilks, I had an opportunity to climb with and get to know some awesome new ladies.
I asked them about their relationship with climbing, the outdoors, and the struggle to always be ‘better’ at a very demanding sport.
These, are their stories:
I don’t always see trying hard and coming up short as a form of defeat. Often times, I walk away from an unfinished climbing project feeling psyched that I was able to make any progress on it at all, especially if it was projecting at my upper limit. I try to see those shortcomings as a marker for how far I’ve come from. Negative thinking can really bring you down hard if you let it. I try to use my failures as fuel for my fire to come back stronger and more prepared for the send next time. I can’t lie and say that i’ve never walked away from a climb feeling sad or upset about the outcome, but I can say that I try not to let it define me. Failure plays a huge role in your growth as an athlete and it definitely affects how resilient you become. After a major climbing related injury, I had many opportunities to feel defeated. It took everything in me to fight those negative thoughts, work harder, and come out stronger. I learned the hard way that it’s a choice. You can either feel bad for yourself, give up, and claim defeat or you can take it as a learning moment, humbly get over yourself, be proud of how far you’ve come, and then put in some work to render a different result next time. You decide.
Climbing grades do not measure my success. I used to obsess over sending high numbers on the V-scale; not sending projects made me a miserable mess and not appreciate climbing the way I should. Since I started climbing outdoors primarily, I still enjoy pushing myself, but I don’t fixate on grades as much since I’m more focused on the quality of a boulder problem and having fun…
…I’ve struggled with this a lot in climbing. I’m learning to walk away from a boulder problem if the circumstances are not conducive to me sending. I sometimes psych myself out and then get upset once I’ve wasted all my energy. I try to trust the process of “if things are meant to be, they’ll be.” I am grateful for every experience because it teaches me something even if I don’t realize it at the time. If I put a lot of effort and time into making progress on a boulder problem but still don’t send it, it feels normal to get upset at first. Then, I keep in mind that when I come back to it and finally send it, it will have more value to me because I worked hard for it and I [will have] earned it fittingly.
For the majority of my life I’ve identified as a nerdy gal. If you asked me 10 years ago if I could see myself heavily invested in a highly athletic sport I may have chuckled a bit. I never saw myself as physically strong. Now, I think climbing is teaching me how strong I can be, and that no matter what box we put ourselves in that doesn’t have to be what defines us forever. Life is always changing; always teaching us something new.
Despite climbing being largely individual, the community is constant. My goals are my own. My wins, my losses, and all the effort in-between is shared. Climbers are some of the most friendly and supportive people I’ve met. When I’ve experienced defeat, my community meets me there and lifts me out of it. When someone experiences success, we all share in it. The constant defeats in climbing can be discouraging and trying if you choose to stay there. Climbing something else for awhile and enjoying the success of my friends helps get me back on my feet and ready for another go.