I consider myself fairly adventurous. I’ve jumped out of an airplane, battled treacherous waters white water rafting, hiked up a mountain where the bears live, I’ve even done a bungee jump from 200 feet and survived. This past weekend I had the opportunity to tackle another adventure: The climb of a colorful, 40-foot rock wall. Buuuuuuut…I opted out.

I think I’ve come to a point in my life where I don’t have to prove anything to anybody. I’m extremely competitive and have always wanted to be the best of the best in every way possible, but I’m tired of that. That’s quite a burden to put on yourself, don’t you think? Some would beg to differ. I know that. Some would argue that striving to be the best version of you is the only way to succeed. Some would even say that giving up is the absolute WORST thing you can do. But I think giving up is absolutely necessary. After all, how would we know what we are missing unless we tasted the possibility?

yogaThis past weekend I stole away to the Adirondacks with a fierce group of women. We hiked, we snuck in on a yoga class, and then we climbed a wall. A rock wall. Twenty feet. I’ve attempted this rock-climbing thing before and I have to tell you, it just didn’t turn me on. So this time when I pulled on my harness and those funny little rock climbing shoes, I was skeptical. But the moment I started climbing was the same moment those fierce women started to whoop and holler and encourage me to the top. I made it there, a bit shaken and scared to death to look down, but I made it. As I repelled to the bottom I thought, “That’s all. I’m done. I have done what I came here to do. Time to go back to the camp and eat chocolate.”

And then our fearless guides showed us the 40-foot wall.

No way.

I was tired. My arms were spent. I had done 582 thousand downward dogs the day before and my arms and legs were mad at me. And then I watched one of those fierce women start her ascent. She was halfway up when she paused to rest, hugging the corner of the rock wall like it was her favorite teddy bear. Hmmm. If she could ascend the big wall, I should at least try, right? I didn’t actually have to go all the way. I could just go halfway and that would be enough. So I did. And then I got mad and scared. I hit a point on the wall that seemed unnavigable. The rocks were smaller and their grips weren’t grooved. In my mind, that weak spot was the perfect excuse for me to give up and repel down. Once I hit the floor I turned to the fierce women and said, “I’m good. I have nothing to prove.”

A lie.

Claire, the one that took the brief respite on the wall, was ready to continue. As she began climbing the colorful rocks, measuring and anticipating her next move, I began to reconsider. It was when she was just about to touch the metal bar at the top of the wall, grunting and breathing heavily with determination, I decided I needed to go back and try again. I needed to find a way to make it past the difficult part. The fierce friend we call Kristin had done it. And now the fierce friend we call Claire had done it. I didn’t even mention the fiercest of the fierce friends, Jody, who tackled the 20-footer at warp speed, the 40-footer with the same amount of ease and grace, and another 20-footer BLINDFOLDED. (I’m not even kidding.) She saw me eyeing the giant wall and said, “You have to do it.”

“I really don’t think I need to,” I lied. “I’m good.”

“No, really, you have to,” she said again. “Look what you do for a living. You encourage people to do what they are most afraid of. Think of the story you could tell once you reach the top.”

I hate when fierce friends are right.

And so up I went, faster than the first ascent, and more determined than I think I have ever been in my life. When I hit the difficult spot, I got emotional. This is the place where so many of us give up. This is the place where we decide it’s too hard, too painful, too whatever to go on. And this is the place I needed to get through. How could I coach anyone through the rough spots if I wasn’t willing to go through them myself?

hooray_me_2I assessed, I clenched, I listened to the fierce tribe coach me and encourage me through that tough spot. And after two minutes of swearing and cursing that area of the wall, I made it through! And wouldn’t you know, I climbed the last ten feet at warp speed? Touching that metal bar at the top was like winning a gold medal. I felt SO accomplished. It was emotional. To overcome the fear and the lies I told myself was intense. I realized in that moment that so many of us stop because we are afraid. We tell ourselves stories and lies so we can stay safe. But the truth is, those lies only put us deeper into pain. There is NOTHING in this world that isn’t possible. I mean that. NOTHING.

Climb to the top. Please. What you’re experiencing right now is just a rough spot. But the only way through it – is to actually go through it. I promise you with every fiber of my being that the full ascent is worth it.

I said in the beginning that it was necessary to quit. And this little story is why.When we can at least taste what we could have, it opens up the floodgates of possibility. And I believe the opening of those gates is exactly what we need sometimes. When we realize what we CAN have, it ignites the fierce warrior within. This the reason you should quit from time to time. The fierce warrior will bring you back.

Okay. Off you go. And I’ll see you again when you hit the ground.

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Joleene Moody is a former television reporter and anchor turned freelance writer, blogger, and speaker, based in Central New York.
(No, not New York City. Not even close. 🙂
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