Climbing and Self-Efficacy

I’m going to take a break from the tellings of my travels to briefly delve into a recent realization of a change that has appeared in my life.

A relatively short time ago, I was living at home, working, saving money, living a perfectly good life. I was safe, healthy, and provided for. Objectively, nothing was wrong. However, I had a sadness inside of me that was making me believe that I was far less capable than I truly am. I feel certain that the voice of self-doubt is a pretty universal human experience. Mine developed a healthy hold on my psyche from a myriad of experiences; the education system telling me that I had to have a certificate in order to be considered legitimate, my own brutal expectations of perfection, the general chaos in the head of a educated, 20-something in this modern age, etc.

When it came to seeking opportunity and opening my mind to the many possibilities that exist in our country, I reacted with what I can only describe as fear and disgust. I would be told of or presented with the idea of a great opportunity and my mind would immediately take me to all the reasons why I couldn’t, shouldn’t and wouldn’t even consider it. The job would always require too many years of experience, or a master’s degree, or I wouldn’t be sure that I WANTED to do the job and I would be afraid of becoming trapped, or I just wasn’t good enough, etc. We can do a lot to resist being vulnerable.

Then, one day in March, my sister and I went to a climbing gym. I hadn’t climbed in years. I didn’t know much about the sport or the culture, and I didn’t think of myself as a particularly strong person. The friends that were with us were patient with me. I hopped on a 5.6 route. It felt fine, easy. So then I climbed a 5.7 route. Easy as well. Then, my competitive mind woke up and I started to get a bit more ambitious. I was proud of my 5.8, feeling a bit cocky at how quickly I was progressing. But, inevitably, when I tried a 5.9, I was put back in my place.

I was not discouraged, though. A spark of determination had been lit and I’ve been working on it ever since.

How can I illustrate how meaningfully climbing has influenced all aspects of my life? The more I started climbing, the more the obvious fact of my own abilities became visible to me. My determination and work yielded results. I found myself pushing my comfort zones and coming out better for it. My body and mind were doing things that I never thought myself capable of. Climbing forced me to come to terms with my own vulnerability, forced me into each moment, and gave me no option but to show up and be seen. How could I not start giving myself more credit in other parts of my life?

I now find myself in a situation where I need to find a job. I would like a job that I enjoy, and that pays me enough to live comfortably. I now view myself not only as worthy of that basic security, but capable of providing it for myself; of doing good work, adding value, and cultivating community. My life’s self-efficacy is present as it never was before, supporting my faith and giving me reason to live joyfully.

Kind regards,

Molly


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