My upcoming move to San Francisco has me thinking of a challenge that I faced a few years back. During my time in Halong Bay, in Vietnam, I decided on a whim to attempt rock climbing for the very first time. I met up with a crew of more experienced climbers on Cat Ba island, and, after receiving some basic instruction and getting properly equipped, I began climbing.
At a certain point very close to the end, though, I got stuck. The rock face’s craggy outcroppings just weren’t yielding any good handholds for me to hoist myself up, and I really didn’t see any way to get to the top. I peered toward the ground and told the guy belaying me that I couldn’t make it and that he should bring me down.
“Yeah, you can, ” he replied, slightly exasperated. “This is a really easy climb. The handholds and footholds are there, you just have to look harder for them and keep going.” The other climbers chimed in, echoing his sentiments that I was making a big fuss over something simple.
After some frustrating moments of grunting, scrambling, strategizing, and reassessing, I finally discovered a wonky but workable path to the summit. Success!
When I got back to the bottom, the other climbers were very vocal in congratulating me. “No big deal,” I shrugged. “Like you said, I got the easy path.”
“Actually, no, you didn’t,” they informed me, gleefully. “We’re surprised that you made it. That climb is pretty hard. Most people don’t reach top, especially if they’re first-time climbers.”
“What?!” I replied, my emotions alternating between pride and indignation. “I can’t believe that you lied to me!”
Everyone laughed at my remonstrations and then took turns defending the group’s actions. “Well, if we had told you the truth, you would have given up!” “Yeah, you’re strong. We knew that, if we pushed you, you would make it up at least a little bit farther before we had to bring you back down.” “But who knew that you could go all the way? That was awesome!”
“Thanks for believing in me so much, guys,” I said, giving them some serious side-eye before joining in on the laughter.
In the end, as a reward for my efforts (and sense of humor), they let me try an extra, more difficult climb. That time, I actually made it up faster because I knew what to expect and I had no doubt that I could do it.
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Fingers crossed that I keep that mindset as I head out to San Francisco to take the next step in my career. Here’s to overcoming any obstacles that the future may bring!