Climbing and I have a rather tempestuous relationship. Inevitably, after a period of good training and successful sends, I seem to get wrapped up in climbing for the numbers, for the tick list, for the sweet trip report, rather than because I want to climb something because it is fun and makes me happy. This, in turn, devolves into crazy nerves and anxiety that make climbing no fun at all. Last year, this happened around late May/early June and I took a big step back from climbing. I went on awesome trail runs. I focused on research and prepared for my qualifying exam. Other parts of my life benefited from the fact that I wasn’t constantly suffering from climbing-related anxiety.
This year, I have come back to climbing with a renewed focus on climbing for the right reasons. I am trying to learn how to appreciate challenging myself without getting so wrapped up in grade-chasing. I am blogging less (and tweeting basically not at all), but climbing more and having more success at school. Part of me is sad that I have stepped back from all my social media climbing friends, but for the time being, I’m choosing climbing (and work) and I hope you’ll all forgive me.
When I started training in the gym in early January in anticipation for our spring break trip to the Red River Gorge, I was forced to be humble. I slowly worked my way from leading 5.10- to 5.10+ to 5.11. I fell short of my hopes of climbing 5.12 in the Red, but I was able to appreciate being in a cool place with great people and awesome climbing.
I guess time will tell how well I will be able to stick to my guns this time around and resist the temptation to chase particular numbers or achievements. I am hopeful, but, at the same time, my time off wasn’t so bad either (my new mountain trail running habit, for example, is definitely a positive addition to my life). All I can say for now is that I am climbing because I love to climb, and that is really the best reason for me.
I’m sure I’m not alone in having a complicated relationship with my motivation to climb, so please feel free to share any input, advice, or experience in the comments.