Trying New Things: Bouldering

When was the last time you tried something new? We feel comfortable doing the things we know, but sometimes doing the same things every day can start feeling dull. Funnily enough, I hate routine but spend majority of my life in a routine because it’s easy to go through the motions. This year I want to try more new things, explore new places, and put more effort into breaking out of my routine as much as possible. One new activity is bouldering. I grew up indoor rock climbing so I am familiar with climbing, but bouldering seemed a lot harder because I don’t have any ropes to support me if I fall. A friend suggested we check out an indoor bouldering gym during one rainy day.

This gym was located in the middle of nowhere, but it was a decent facility nevertheless. When we first arrived, I felt so out of my element despite having done a similar activity before. It’s like walking into school on the first day of class, trying to figure out where your classes are even though you’ve walked the same hallways before.

The first thing we did was rent climbing shoes. These specific shoes were oddly narrow in the front so the staff advised us to take them off when we weren’t climbing. After that, we were basically on our own. Not going to lie, I dislike being unknowledgeable. I’m the type of person who wants to know the ins and outs of things, so that when people talk about it or don’t know much about it, I can share my knowledge or secretly tell myself, “I’m in the know!” In this case, there is no way to prepare for that nervous feeling when you do something for the first time no matter how much you read up on it or how many instructional videos you watch. It will feel awkward and you will fail but it’s a fear you can overcome and accept as part of the process.

From my understanding, bouldering is about solving problems by trying to find the best route to get from point A to B – usually on a more horizontal path, while rock climbing is about climbing vertically and the goal is to reach the top.

The hardest part about bouldering for me was the slanted walls which required me to use a lot of upper body strength to keep me from falling off. Gravity was not my friend. Only after a few attempts at what was supposed to be the easiest level, my hands started to hurt. Gripping the plastic holds were a big challenge since I wasn’t used to holding my own body weight from just the grips of my fingers.

We moved to an easier side of the wall (aka more vertical) to attempt to successfully finish a route. Because we were beginners, we made it easier for ourselves by saying as long as we touched the holds that were part of the route, we could use the surrounding holds to help us out. Even then it was pretty difficult! However, the satisfying feeling when you finally reach the end is the best. It goes to show that although failing sucks and can feel embarrassing, when you finally succeed, it’s the best feeling in the world.

There are many benefits to trying new things. I took a step towards conquering my fear of failure and in doing so, I felt a sense of accomplishment. It’s normal to fear the uncertain but every time you conquer it, no matter how small or big, you build up your confidence towards knowing it’s possible to succeed. If you still need another push to get out of your comfort zone, read this article by Anna Harrison from Classy Career Girl, 10 Reasons To Try New Things.

Bouldering opened doors for me to explore new places like finding another gym and experiencing it for the first time. A few weeks after I went to the indoor bouldering gym, another friend wanted to go try bouldering at her local fitness center. We went to check it out and although this was only my second time climbing, I felt more comfortable in the environment.

On a final note, trying new things doesn’t mean they have to or will become your new favorite thing. It’s okay to move on from it if you realize it’s not for you. At least from these new experiences, you learn more about yourself. Bouldering was a fun experience, but I think I enjoy rock climbing more. And that’s okay! The important thing is to go out there and challenge yourself to participate in new things.

Here’s to a new year and new experiences!

What are some activities or hobbies you’ve always wanted to pick up? Let me know in the comments and then GO DO THEM!

Annie x

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