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Thursday, February 5, 2015

It's a Nice View; A Refection on Women in Climbing

I recently read this blog and it really stuck with me (and no, this is not a feminist rant). I definitely agree with what she is saying, I am totally a feminist, so why wouldn't I? But then, a part of me thought, "Can you really have it all? Is it too complicated to be humble and proud?" I thought about it some more and here are a few thoughts...

More often than not, most people I know, women and men, tend to downplay their successes. I do think that as far as social conformity goes, it can be harder for women to voice their awesomeness. Sometimes it is a case of being humble, sometimes it's digging for compliments and other times it's that people just plain don't feel confident in their abilities. I myself have fallen into all of these categories at one point or another. I definitely try to not fish for compliments though, what is that quote, "I hate false modesty, it's just another way of lying..." something like that. 

There came a point to where I am now pretty comfortable and confident in my abilities as a climber. I have fluctuated between on and off the couch for pretty much my whole climbing existence... as many non-full time adventurists are. Have I been stronger, yes. Am I getting pretty strong again now, yes. Are there folks out there better than I am, heck yes! The trick lies in being able to humble but also be true to yourself. Like she touches on in the article, it's easy to make excuses like, "I'm not as strong as the people I'm climbing with," "I don't like talking about myself," etc., etc. I've done that and still do that occasionally. It's not because I feel like I'm some gunk in the bottom of the approach shoes of those I'm climbing with, but I sometimes get weird when people compliment me (maybe I thank society for that one, who knows). I also don't want folks to think things about me that aren't true, so I try to steer clear of well-intended exaggeration. That being said, it's nice to have friends that think you're rad, and I most certainly love them for it!

I want to mention just how awesome it is to see so many strong and fantastic women (and girls) out there climbing now! I honestly remember when I was first starting to climb as a kid and there was really no women climbing hard but Lynn Hill, that I knew of at least, to inspire me as a girl. I grew up taught by my Father and climbed with his friends or other people he knew (basically all men, with an occasional lady in the mix, but definitely no one my age). I didn't even have female friends that climbed until well after a decade of starting and now I know and see so many ladies climbing that it is truly exciting. I obviously love climbing with my rad men friends, but there is something powerful about a group of women getting out and gearing up. Say what you will, but the vibe is really different when it's all women, not necessarily better, just incomparable.

With climbing, as with anything that takes skill, it can take years and years for someone to truly master something. Even then there is always a new challenge to face, new skills to learn, different ways of doing the same thing, etc. There are many, many new routes I would love to see and do, so I always see room for growth. I am, however, very proud of what I have achieved and learned over the couple of decades I have been climbing. I am also very proud to be the climbing legacy of my Father. This doesn't mean I need to always shout out my accomplishments, but when someone says something nice, I always try to say "thanks!" I've also come to hope that some of the things I have done can be an inspiration for others, just as I am inspired by so many amazing people.

So, ladies, let's keep this this sisterhood growing! Let's continue to encourage each other, climb with each other, always keep a lookout for new friends and embrace the awesome in yourself. And gents, encourage your friends equally, if a woman is strong, tell her so. Are you always going to be on point? No. Everyone has off days, but we need to not beat ourselves up for too long. In the end it's not about being a man or a woman, it's about climbing to your own potential and challenging yourself and supporting/encouraging those around you. Climbing should be fun. If it's not fun, come back another day and try again. Give out praise (as long as it's honest) as well as say "thank you" often, but don't be afraid to take a compliment or two yourself, because after all, it meant enough to someone for them to tell you.


I love this route, Alf's Arete, in JT!