So not many of you’ll know this about me, but up until about 5/6 years ago I was a big scaredy cat. I mean huge. Couldn’t walk up on tall things, couldn’t climb a tree, couldn’t go on a swing that was not well made (so not a rope on a tree), couldn’t climb, well anything. I had a never-ending fear of falling, hurting myself and worse, embarrassing myself! I must remind you I was also 3 stone heavier so everything seemed so much harder, everything seemed more unattainable to me than to others. So I just stayed down at the bottom and watched Cormac climb everything, and boy did he climb everything…
Fastforward a few years and the weight has been sweated away through hours and hours of running. And I start to feel a little bit of a spring in my step. Maybe I could climb something? My legs can definitely hold me up. I knew it would impress Cormac and that’s really all I try to do. But I started small. I went hill walking. A tough excursion indeed on rough terrain! I needed a lot help. My body was not used to this sort of exercise, My mind was racing, trying to figure out what was safe, what was easy, all the while Cormac is the barreling through it all. He knew he could do it. I didn’t know that I could… A pull to get over stream, a shove to get a steep incline, words of encouragement when I froze at a rather narrow part. Through the rivers and over the hills I went, safely behind the burliest man I know.
I’m the King of the World
As time went on, you can imagine that I got less shit, and then eventually, I got good. I went from being a wobbly, stumbling fool in converse to a steady footed, hiking boot clad (thanks ma!) fool. A fool who wasn’t too concerned with dirt under her nails and having her feet achey from the hours of climbing. I wasn’t too nervous to get down on my knees and get stuck into whatever the mountains had in store for us. Dense forest, highland bog, heather fires, apocalyptic wind. I was turning into the fearless wonder. Cormac was astounded (and secretly a little impressed.) My confidence was growing and with that my fear subsiding.
Wait! No I’m not
So when our buddy Art (half terminator/half mountain goat) asked us to come along with him to climb rocks on the Burren, I was jumping at the opportunity. This was my time to shine! I can climb mountains, this’ll be a doddle! Well, I was wrong. These aren’t itty bitty rocks down by the Burren, these were very large parts of cliff after breaking away from the main land and creating their own landscape by the crashing waves. I was in over my head, literally. This wasn’t just steep walking with a few streams. Boulders upon boulders have been piled high to create a walkway to the stars, beautiful but tough. But I persevered and battled through, slipping a lot, falling on my ass several times and need a lot of lifts up. I learned the three points of contact method to climbing and thankfully Art and Cormac were happy enough to drag me up what I literally couldn’t climb. I was wet and muddy and slightly bruised but I made it through. I had never completed something like that before. I had lost all my confidence. I was so unsure of myself all over again. But I knew I just needed practice and the knowledge that I could do it.
No wait, I’m back
Last week we went back with more friends and armed with my previous knowledge and I mustered up some confidence and went at these rocks like a bat outta hell. Smart enough to get down onto my hands, I found that following the lads was just not an option for me. They are tall, I am not. They could reach things that I simply couldn’t. So I found my own route and made to the edge of the rocks shortly after them but delighted and smug as feck that I did it all myself. No slipping, no falling, a few moments of “eh no I can’t do this” which I rightly ignored. And only helping hand (it was a really big rock). I wowed them all, I wowed myself.
And as I was pottering up the side of the cliff, proud of my accomplishment, I began to think about how many people I know will make mistakes, slip up, fall and do some damage. Not just because they are unable (though that is important) but because they didn’t think they could. They simply didn’t trust themselves. And at first, I was the same.
Skill and knowledge is indeed involved but if you can only trust yourself you’ll slip up a lot less. Take it from someone who has spent a lot her time falling on her arse…