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  • Writer's pictureJena

Facing the Challenge

Photo: Andrea Piacquadio

"Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional."- Roger Crawford (Athlete and motivational speaker)


I believe I used to be more of a risk-taker, at least in certain areas of my life. I felt ready to take on almost anything and thought I could be anything I wanted to be. I was passionate about roller coasters and even did a 130 foot free fall into a net at an extreme amusement park. Now? Eh. I've seen so many news stories and heard so many horror stories that I would be terrified to take any sort of free fall or jump.

My tolerance for risk and certain adventures have definitely declined over the years, and part of the reason is because I've seen a bit more of life. I've seen and heard of things that went wrong (either in my own life or on the news). I've calculated the many ways that one of my choices could lead to utter failure or disaster. I've experienced the bumps, bruises, and burnout from doing too much too fast. I've made regrettable decisions.

Heights have become an issue for me as I've gotten older. No longer can I climb up trees like I used to as a kid. I have a slight worry about amusement park rides. And for a while, I have been afraid of climbing walls. During my honeymoon, I decided to try a climbing wall. 'Two pre-teens had gone before me, so how hard could it be?' I thought as the attendant hooked me into a harness. And it started off fine. I almost got to the top before my arms got too tired.

The difficulty came in coming down off the wall. "You can just let go and you'll come down," the attendant said. I tried to release the handholds but I was frozen. "You can just let go," she said again, helpfully. And I couldn't. I stayed up there for an embarrassingly long moment before I finally tried to scramble down and let go at a more comfortable height. For days after, I had shoulder pain and I ended up having to get injections in one of my shoulders. And that was it. After that, every time I thought about a climbing wall, I would remember feeling like I was going to fall and the pain of my shoulder. So I figured I would never try that again. I even tried to face my fear and bought a pass to a climbing gym, but I couldn't even begin a climb. I just went home.

For years, I had been in a sort of stasis, doing the same day-to-day activities and, to be honest, not really growing. Last year was one of discovery for me- in my professional life, my personal life, and in my development. I've been learning the importance of constant growth. And the importance of not feeling embarrassed during this growing period. It's so interesting that as kids, we had no shame in picking up new skills and making mistakes along the way, but sometimes as we get older, we develop such a fear of failure and embarrassment that it can make it difficult for us to develop ourselves.

After reading about others' experiences and the power of overcoming challenges, I decided I wanted to do the same. I started with signing up for classes to develop my personal skillset. I began studying how to manage day to day challenges, like daily stressors. And then I decided it was time to face my old nemesis- the climbing wall. And yes, I felt like a fool because I was super nervous and it was just a climbing wall, not climbing Everest, but I also felt excited. I took my family with me and we learned about climbing and the way you should fall to avoid injury. And I climbed- well, I bouldered. Of course, it was only a beginner experience and there is a lot to learn and lot to do in the future, but I felt like I overcame some of my fear. Next stop, I'll hook myself to a harness and climb!

And it doesn't stop there. This year, I am devoted to opening up more possibilities in my life, whether it's by meeting a physical challenge, a mental challenge, or both, and I'm going to encourage everyone around me to do the same. This is the year for us to overcome, to persevere, to set our goals and meet them head-on. It is our year to hone our skills, take opportunities, challenge old stories and beliefs, and redefine ourselves in whatever way we choose.

Let's do it!


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