I recently started bouldering. And I am ~super~ not good at it.
One of my roommates, who is stupid good at all things outdoorsy, introduced me to climbing/bouldering at the beginning of this year. I was definitely weary at first, because I’ve never been good with the whole using your arm muscles thing. I played soccer for all of my life, specifically because there was very little arm strength involved.
But the first time I went climbing, I had so much fun, despite the fact that I was most definitely the least experienced person in the gym. I fell a lot and failed at climbing routes (or “problems” if you’re into the climbing lingo) that were my roommate’s warm-up routes.
So I kept doing it. I got a membership at the climbing gym the next day and went climbing again, which was definitely not the move – I couldn’t move my arms for approximately three days. Like I said, very little arm strength.
Eventually, I glo’d up, stopped using the rental shoes that the gym offers, and bought my own pair of climbing shoes. I got a chalk bag and tape for my calloused hands, expecting that I would eventually be one of those experienced climbers that I saw on my first day. Yeah…not so much. Here are a couple things I’ve learned from continuing a hobby that I’m bad at.
It’s okay to not be the best. I’ve always struggled with striving to be the best at everything I did. Even when I wasn’t the best (which was pretty often, let’s be real), I pretended to be. I’m definitely a “fake it till you make it” type of gal. But with climbing, you can’t pretend to be good – it’s literally impossible. So honestly, climbing has helped me accept that I’m fine with being bad at something. I still really enjoy going to the gym and I’ve learned to make fun of myself when I fall off a route that a seven-year-old just absolutely crushed.
Any progress is good progress. This was a hard lesson to learn. Routes have different ratings depending on difficulty, and I’ve only completed routes that are the second-easiest rating. There were definitely times where I felt like it was pointless to be climbing because I wasn’t seeing any improvement in the rating of routes I was climbing. While all my friends were seeing success, I was failing. But then I realized that any progress is good progress, even if it’s not quantifiable. I was feeling better and happier when I climbed and was able to go further on more difficult routes even if I couldn’t complete them. Which brings me to my next point…
Having fun is important. Duh. If you want to pick up a hobby or an activity, you should probably learn to enjoy it. But climbing has really taught me that having fun is the most important aspect of picking up a hobby. Obviously climbing isn’t an ego-booster for me, so enjoying myself is certainly the most enticing factor of continuing to do it.
So go out and pick up a new hobby, even if you suck at it. Maybe you’ll learn some similar lessons.