I spent the afternoon at a climbing crag yesterday, where I climbed up—nay, clambered up one particular route. It was two or three grades above my climbing level. While there were some parts that were doable, a lot of it involved difficult moves and challenging sequences to figure out. After falling in some parts and hanging in others, I winged it to the top, sweaty, pumped, and tired.
When I got down, a friend asked what I thought of the route. “It’s really hard,” I answered, frowning. “And I wouldn’t want to climb it again.” Because it was out of my comfort zone, I quickly judged that I didn’t like it, that it was not for me, and that I would rather do something easier.
Many times in our lives, we approach challenges this way. Our initial reaction is to veer away from them because they make us feel weak or expose our vulnerabilities. And so we pass the judgment, and we risk the chance of growth.
Half and hour or so later—after belaying someone, looking at the route from below, taking a nap, and having a light snack, I was asked if I would climb the same route again. Something inside of me said to give the route a second chance—that maybe it wasn’t as bad as I had initially judged it to be.
And so I tied in to my rope, slipped on my rock shoes, and got off the ground. Funny how with a more open mind, the hand holds and foot holds—so elusive the first time I climbed this route—were more obvious the second time around. I still fell in some parts, but instead of feeling frustrated, I figured out the sequences and taught myself the most efficient way to get to the top. As I got back down, I had this resolve to redpoint the route the next time I come back to this area.
Have you ever closed your doors to something because of an initial judgment of dislike? Sometimes our dislike for something (or someone) is made because we don’t understand them. But if you give yourself some time, take a step back and shake off the tunnel vision, you’ll discover something great about this new thing. You’ll learn something about yourself. You’ll rid yourself of fear and judgment. You’ll begin a wonderful friendship (with someone or even yourself!). And in the process you’ll grow.
Here’s to another week of learning, and of expanding you’re comfort zone.