Last Sunday, we climbed to the top. I’m not going to say that it was easy. I’m not sure that I want to say that it was fun. I climbed the stairs with three old friends and one new one. Towards the end, they literally held my hands and helped me up the stairs. They stayed positive and friendly through 66 flights of stairs. They cheered me up 1215 steps. They took breaks with me when I couldn’t catch my breath. They smiled the entire way. They made it happen. The climb was the win I’ve so desperately been needing.
I learned two life lessons from this experience: one that I was supposed to already know but didn’t until now and one that I keep forgetting but life keeps placing awesome people in my life to remind me.
During the two weeks before the climb, I was feeling really low about who hadn’t donated or volunteered to climb. I had expectations that friends that I had had forever, people that I talk to all the time, would be the ones to step up and make it happen. And instead, friends that I hadn’t spoken to in months, in some cases years, were stepping up the plate. People that I had only heard of before were donating money and leaving nice notes. People that I had only “met” on the internet were coming to climb stairs with me in real life. And despite how amazing that sounds (and feels to type) for weeks I was stuck feeling sad about who wasn’t giving. To be honest, it still hurts a bit. But it was wrong of me to let a little bit of negativity outshine all the love and support that was being showered on me. It’s embarrassing to think about it now. It’s very easy to focus on the negative and I’m thankful for my patient friends who allowed me to vent, offered some solutions, but ultimately told me to snap out of it and to not let this ruin an incredible opportunity. You can’t let negativity suck all the shine of awesome experiences.
The other lesson is so simple, it’s funny. It’s that you get what you ask for. In the beginning I was hoping just to raise the $250 necessary to be eligible to climb. But in the end, I raised over $2000. I made a cowl for my brother for Christmas and people said they wanted one too. I decided to use the proceeds from them to donate to the climb, I raised over $50 in proceeds to donate to. I’ve never liked asking for help. I dreaded asking for donations. And while I can’t say that I love it or even like it, I’m humbled to know that if I just ask for it, people will be there to give it. And that feels pretty good.
The preparation for climb had been such a difference experience than I was expecting. Initially, I didn’t have much of a reaction to the climb. It was something I was going to do, and it involved me doing something I really didn’t want to do. I felt like jerk emailing everyone I knew to ask for money. But I’ve been forcing myself to do things that scared me, so I looked at fundraising as an opportunity to work through my fear – to do something even though it scared me. And so I did it.
Then there was the climb itself. Although I’m not in the best shape of my life, I was pretty confident I would get to the top. I wasn’t sure how long it was going to take, but I knew I could get up there. It was only in talking to people who weren’t doing the climb, that I started to doubt myself. People wanted to calculate how long it would take. In my practice runs, I was doing 40 flights in 20 minutes. But somehow, in these talks with other people, I was convinced that it would take me over an hour to do 66 flights. I began to panic. What if I couldn’t make it to the top? (Self-doubt is so lame.) But as usual my friends talked me down. My friends helped me up too. We did all 66 flights in 23 minutes. Anna thought we probably could have gone faster. Crazy, huh? In the end, my breathing was the biggest problems. My legs could have easily done the climb faster, but I just could not catch my breath.
When we finally got to the top, I thought I might cry. My emotions surprised me. I did something very difficult. I did it with friends. I finished something. As I said earlier, the week before the climb was a disaster. A comedy of errors. There were lots of tears. I remember crying over drinks that I just needed one win. Just one victory to show me that it was going to be ok. I got that on the top of the rock. I got my first step back on track.