Coming Full Circle With Anxiety
Booked a one-way ticket to Switzerland with no plan, no job or a place to live. I had no idea how I would make it, but I had faith. Back track to a few years back, I suffered from anxiety and panic attacks, if someone told me I’d be doing a solo travel backpacking trip with no plan, I wouldn’t believe them. Here I was about to embark on this journey all-alone, as a woman to see how long I travel for.
I met these wonderful guys where I was camping and they invited me to go rock climbing, which I’ve never done before. I was down for anything. So long living in fear, I was going to try whatever I have not tried before at least once. Those who have experienced anxiety, trusting this guy with my life to climb a rock face could be a little nerve-wracking. I was strangely calm.
I climbed for the first time; each step and each move was very calculated. Climbing was like trying to solve a puzzle, trying to figure out where to your foot or hand in the right pocket. I would get stuck at a spot not sure where to go, thinking, “I can’t do this.” But I did not allow my fear to creep up and cause me to panic. I took a deep breath and said to myself, “You got this.” Eventually when I slapped the chain at the top, I felt a rush of accomplishment. A sense of “I can do anything I set my mind to.”
I climbed four more times after that. Adam, who was holding my end of the rope, was impressed by how well I took to climbing being that it was my first time. He was surprised by the natural ability I had and the techniques I used, which some really experienced climbers know how to do. He wanted pushed me to see how I could handle each and every climb. He wanted to test my strength, mentally and physically.
When I arrived at the hard one, I wasn’t sure if I could do it. It was a lot of feet involved, which means most of the climbing is done crawling up the rock. I tried to attempt it and I slipped. It startled me but I got right back up and tried again. His encouragement and my drive kept me going. It took a lot of strength and control to climb to the top but I did it. It was invigorating. I loved the rush of climbing.
When I finally got down, Adam looked at me and said, “You have no fear.” Everything in that moment came full circle. All the hard work I’ve done on myself to overcome my fears and anxiety was validated in that moment. I felt so amazing after climbing with Adam and his friends all day. I knew I was meant to meet them along my travel journey, to show me I can do anything.
I continued to take leaps and met with Adam again a few months later to climb in Costa Rica. We spent 2 weeks road tripping through the beautiful country. When we found our climbing spot, I realized this may be one of my toughest climbs. It was very high and had strange angles that I wasn’t used to. I watched Adam climb with a fire in his heart. He climbed with ease, precision and made it look so easy. It was my turn to go and I was nervous. I wasn’t used to this style of climbing, it wasn’t like Switzerland with natural pockets to put your hands in. I had difficulty even starting at the bottom and my foot kept slipping off. Adam reassured me to breathe and take my time. I made it half way. My fingers were beginning to cramp up and I looked up and realized I had a long way to go. I told myself “I can’t do this.” I even told Adam to bring me down. Adam wouldn’t let me. I hung in the air for a while until I gathered my strength again.
I took a deep breath and put my foot on one side and my hand above me to lift myself up onto a tiny part I could stand on. I had it but my foot slipped and Adam screamed, “you’re going to swing across!” I never experienced that but I swung so far left but grabbed onto the nearest rock I could find. My heart was racing but in a good way; a rush. I found my way back to my route and continued climbing. There was a clip hanging at the top that someone left behind and I wanted to grab it. I wanted to say I made it to the top and that was my trophy to prove it. My forearms getting tight and giving out but my mind kept telling me to keep going. One step at a time, that’s what brought me to the top. And that’s what I tell myself each day. “One step at a time.” Whenever I’m having a rough day or feel anxious about something, I remind myself of that clip at the top and I know I will reach it and or achieve what I want. It just takes time and I have to trust the process of getting there. I still have that clip with me and I will always be reminded of that.