Last weekend, we spent a couple days in the desert climbing and camping; roasting in the sun, and somehow simultaneously freezing in the shade. Our team, made up of four men and myself, took on these days with our own separate intentions, though with decently similar goals in mind. The first day, I stood back to enjoy the sunshine — soaking in our scenery, writing in my journal, snacking, drinking beer, and taking endless photos of my friends (old and new) in their element. While they climbed, I sat. Content. That night, however, I thought back to my day and felt a little out of place. Not only was I the only woman in our group, but I was also the only one that chose not to climb. I didn’t feel like I belonged. Truthfully, a part of me felt like an unnecessary addition and it made me feel deeply unsettled.
Playing outside is not the easiest for me to do. I’m exceedingly friendly with the overarching experience of being uncomfortably out of my element, lost, or anxious in the “outdoor space.” Too many times have I allowed that to overwhelm me: feeling too slow, too weak, too out of place. But, after this weekend, I’ve learned that that’s okay. I show up anyway, and I show up every time the way I know best to do. And sometimes that means taking a day to soak up the environment around me, doing nothing but observing and enjoying.
The rest of the weekend fostered quite opposite feelings, by the way. On the second day of our “expedition” (a fun term, used VERY loosely), I decided to lead a line that another climbing duo -- two women from a different party -- later reluctantly jumped on, claiming it as their “pre-warm up.” I, on the other hand, used this line to challenge me in taking hold of my climbing head again. Too many times have I spent long-standing minutes on the sides of mountains like these crying, panicking, and hyperventilating - all on top rope, no less. So, on that day I showed up, tied in, and jumped onto someone else’s “pre-warm up” with the intention of breaking that cycle for myself. And it worked. No more unsettled feelings of being out of place - I showed up in another way I knew how: trying hard and forcing myself through the discomfort.
This is usually a difficult concept for me to sit with. I want to perform, and I want to perform well, damn it. But, I also have to remember that doesn’t always have to happen in order for growth to occur. A lesson learned, and something I hope to always hold onto (in and out of the context of playing outside): Occupying space the best we know how to is always enough.