One of the things I have learned while rock climbing is that what often seems impossible for us to accomplish is more in our own mind than it is in reality.
I remember my first real outdoor rock climbing experience at the Delaware Water Gap. On that very first trip, it had rained earlier in the day and the rock face was still wet and even muddy in some places. This was a completely new experience and well outside my comfort zone. I am actually a bit scared of heights.
I started off pretty easy and began to get excited as I climbed. I must have climbed about 50 feet before I came to a section that seemed impassable. I was holding onto this one spot with everything I had. The rock was wet, and it felt like I could fail at any moment. I thought there was no physical way I could achieve the next move to continue climbing. It required me to lift my left leg up while extending out and then standing up on a ledge to my left that was at chest height. All I had to do was get my foot up on that hold, and then reach for the next hold above it. But to do this required letting go of the rock face. Right now, I was comfortable and safe., but this move would put me in a vulnerable position. If I didn’t do it right, I would miss and fall, which was still terrifying even though I was hooked into a rope and harness.
I struggled with this fear while holding onto the rock for what seemed like an eternity. I can’t do this, I thought. Thoughts of fear and failure raced through my mind over and over. I even thought about just giving up. Look how far I already came today, I thought to myself, This is a good start. Then I started to think about my vision, and the promise I made to myself. I wanted to climb to the top, to be able to say I had done this. I wanted to be able to say I was a climber, and I focused my mind on the end goal and got up the courage to do it.
With all those positive images running through my mind, I put my leg out and made the move, reaching for the next hold above me. It is hard to describe, but it was amazing. I did something that I was convinced was impossible for me to do. Something that had seemed so impossible, so outside of my comfort zone and difficult for me, what looked so far away and so dangerous, turned out to be a very easy move.
The danger was real. Yes, I could fall several feet, even hooked in and with a person on belay. Yet knowing all this, I was still afraid to fail, that I could still be injured. The fear in my mind was multiplying the risks in my reasoning. Only when I suppressed it, replaced it with my vision, and focused my attention on my goal that I got up the courage to step outside of my comfort zone.
That day, I did step outside of my comfort zone, and I grew a little. I became more confident in my abilities. Not just in rock climbing, (I am still a very new rock climber) but my confidence in myself was increased. I realized I had the ability to overcome.
Every one of us has so much potential inside of us. We just have to push ourselves outside of where we are comfortable. When you get outside of your comfort zone, you will grow.