Envy and Jealousy, Not My Favourite Suits

I’ve been bouldering a few times a week, every week, for the last year and a half. I've gotten better over that time, my hands and feet are stronger, my balance is coming along decently as well. Overall I am pretty happy with my progress.

Until last week, then I wasn’t.

I'd just had a decent climb. Topped a few problems[1] that I hadn't managed to get earlier and just before I was about to leave, I bumped into a friend, who I hadn't seen in a few weeks. He had progressed a tonne. I mean, compared to the last time I climbed with him, the boy had made some huge gains. I felt like a seal watching a monkey climb a tree.

I should be happy for him, and I am, honestly, he deserves it after all the work he put in to his climbing, but I would be lying to say that I didn’t use that situation to take the hammer to my confidence. I stayed for a bit, humoured him and attempted some of the same problems he was working on, at which point he earnestly tried to support and build me up. But, I bounced soon after. Leaving couldn’t have come any quicker.

The ride home was pretty rough. I’m not (typically?) a jealous person. I'm (usually?) pretty reasonable and calm. I am happy for my friend. The three dimensional chess playing out in my head put a real damper on the evening and the cloud still lingers a little bit when my eyes lose sharp focus.

What really upsets me, isn’t that I’m not better, or that my mate has blown by, it’s really that I got upset at all. I mean where did that floodwater of insecurity come from? How didn’t I realise that there was a Last Jedi-esque spooky hole in my head? Have I been that over-confident or self-absorbed that I forgot about it?

Today, I have a smidge more perspective. I’m making my way slowly down the stairs, beginning far up my own butt, to the ground floor. Perhaps, I just needed a little bump to remind myself that I should be humble. Daily practise is definitely what the doctor’s called for, but damn, sometimes little shocks can rattle something deep, something you’d rather forget about than deal with: the reality that says, “That is all part of you, that’s who you are, dummy.”


  1. That's the lingo for a bouldering route from the ground to the top of the last hold. They range in difficulty and aren't all that high. The whole exercise is mostly about technique and explosive power.

    You should consider trying it, truly. ↩︎


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