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 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.”