Amateurity

The other day, I was alone at the rock climbing gym.

I had a half hour to kill before I need to go get ready for work, and my goal is to climb at least 3 different routes at the gym. It was what I told myself just so I’d just LEAVE THE HOUSE and make the most of the trial membership I have.

There were people around, and I felt even more apparent of my loner status. I’ve been in enough gyms to know that people generally don’t care about how good you are – but I still feel dumb, still feel somewhat lonely, and hope that I’ll eventually make friends here.

I chose the easiest bouldering routes – the purple rocks, in this case. They’re climbable. The route-creators make it so you’re not completely scared off of climbing, and the floor beneath me is soft and somewhat bouncy so I don’t injure myself, just in case I fall.

I climbed 1 route, then 2, and 3 – and my forearms were sore, but hey! At least I accomplished my goal. And now that I was here, why not keep going?

So I climbed some more – and my arms were starting to get pretty juiced, so I started jumping off mid-route. But after a few attempts and finally overcoming my 6th “problem,” as they call them, I figured my time was up and I needed to get going.

Here’s the lesson:

I was successful because I took action – not because I’m good at this.

I will always be a beginner and an amateur, plain and simple. I’ll get good at some things and give up other things, but I have a fascination for learning and trying new things.

Brendan Leonard, creator of semi-rad, says this:

I am going to try this, I am going to suck at it for an indefinite amount of time, and other people are going to see me fail, repeatedly.

Right now, I’m trying some new things:

  • Snowboarding
  • Rock climbing
  • Winter camping and hiking

I’m okay/intermediate at snowboarding, I’m still a beginner in rock climbing, and with winter camping and hiking? It depends on the day, weather, and how willing I am to get out of my comfort zone.

I talk about Austin Kleon a lot, and for good reason: he helps me embrace my amateurity.

(I just made up that word, do you like it? It’s like amateur meets maturity. I think that’s me.)

I like the way Austin Kleon looks at it: amateur is originally taken from the Latin definition: amator, meaning lover. I am a lover of many things. I may not be good at any of it, but golly, I love it. I’m trying to get better. I’m interested.

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