Growing up as a competitive ‘climber’ I thought I needed to have a certain body type to really be classified as such. The typical body type that I saw at competitions was…you guessed it…thin and somewhat lanky. And well, I wasn’t naturally thin like my competitors or the girls in the older age divisions. I had to use other methods to become thin like them – and even still I never felt like I matched the ‘typical’ body type of the crushers. I felt ‘less than,” which caused me to isolate myself from much of the community growing up. Because of this, my adult self really feels for the little self that struggled with feelings of inadequacy, and of isolation within the community.
So, this message is to all of the women and gender minorities who are currently part of our community or will enter it in the future. YOU BELONG. You don’t have to look a certain way to have a spot in this community. You don’t have to climb a certain grade, or even get to the top. You don’t have to climb for a certain amount of time, or even understand the weird lingo that we throw around here and there. You don’t have to climb outside, nor do you ever have to lead climb if you don’t want to. You have a spot in this community simply by showing up – knowing that you deserve this space just as much as any other human on this planet.
By enjoying this sport, however frequent or infrequent, and in whatever fashion you choose, you can call yourself a climber. I hope you can call yourself a climber with confidence, knowing that you do not need to earn your spot here.
I’m not sure when or how this community fostered the narrative that you “must be or do X to call yourself a climber,” but it is detrimental to the growth of our sport and also for the experience of individuals, too. I’m here to try to change this; let’s practice together – say it outloud, as confidently as you can muster up the courage: “I AM A CLIMBER, TOO.”
My hope is that you get what the universe intended you to get from this sport, regardless of how long you stick with it. This sport may be a paragraph, a page, a chapter or a few editions within your life journey, but there is most certainly something to learn here during that time. Here’s to finding joy, playfulness and curiosity while you’re here.