The Top

Anyone who knows me knows that one of the biggest road blocks in my life is my utter lack of confidence. I cannot even recall how many times by now I’ve discovered a new passion, tried to pursue it, then gave up because I’d lost the confidence in my abilities and started to believe that it was a waste of time to even try to succeed if there was a possibility of failure. Take, for instance, my passion for singing and acting. After years of voice lessons, acting classes, and high school stage performances, it only took a couple of letdowns for me to decide that my skills weren’t good enough to be wasting my time trying to pursue my passion. For years after, I seemed to become more and more lazy as I began losing interest in many of the activities I used to enjoy. I was consumed by hopelessness, staying at home a lot, cooped up in a room watching mindless TV and browsing the web for hours.
When it was starting to seem like I’d lost all motivation in life, I befriended a man who just happened to work at a climbing gym. He was definitely an inspirational character, as his thirst for adventure was so mesmerizing that it motivated me to get off my butt and drag it out the door. I began to seek out a more active lifestyle, one I‘d deprived myself of for years. By the end of summer, I had tackled new hiking trails, went on several bike rides to Mad River and Clam Beach, and navigated a raft down the Trinity River. As simple as it sounded and despite the fact that it would take place indoors, the one thing left for me to do was to climb a rock wall in the gym my friend worked at. Originally, I had told him that I’d pay the stupid usage fee for non-members and show up ready to climb some day soon. Unfortunately, I feared not making it to the top and embarrassing myself in front an experienced climber, so my humility ultimately got the best of me and I never showed my face in his gym. Then, last week, almost half a year after I made that promise, I learned that the company my friend worked for, the North Coast Adventure Centers, was lending their climbing wall to College of the Redwoods for a day and would be letting students climb for free. I knew this would be my chance to regain pride and prove to myself that I was capable of succeeding.
When the NCAC visited last Wednesday, I was overwhelmed with anticipation and fear, but despite my nerves, I was confident that I could climb to the top and ready to conquer my fear as I walked over to the wall they had erected outside of the cafeteria. After signing an agreement mentioning the potential risks, including a dreadfully untimely death, I was strapped into a harness and told to provide slack for the climber before me as I anxiously waited my turn. Fighting against the brisk winds, I gathered my thoughts and prepared to ascend up the wall towering in front of me. When I glanced up at the peak, a sprout suddenly became a beanstalk as I tried to visually measure how high I‘d be off the ground. Maybe it was the thought that I was about to face my acrophobia, or the fact that I was placing my life in the hands of two strangers, or just the icy March air that was making me shiver like timid Chihuahua. But with a few deep breaths, I let the fear escape me and latched on with both hands as I took that first step. Suddenly, as if my hands were magnets, I climbed the wall like a cat up a tree, stopping once or twice to regain composure, and before I knew it, I had already graced the top and was being slowly lowered to the ground. The second my foot touched the concrete I felt twenty pounds lighter. The years of doubt that had built up inside of me suddenly vanished, and I felt ready to accomplish anything, which is why I went home that day and (finally) started writing my first article. I realized that I needed to stop worrying about my articles being good enough, because I know the quality of my writing. What this experience has taught me is that no matter how many people can motivate and encourage you, until you believe in yourself will you truly be able to move forward in life.

Suzanne Stenecker-Dieckman

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