It’s just you and the wall: the psychology of failing again, and again, and-

again and again aaaaand – you get the picture.


About three weeks ago, I attempted an ‘orange’ route at the Climbing Lab. For those not familiar with the Lab in Leeds, the orange route is, generally, the second hardest colour, and since I started bouldering, in January, I’ve now begun tackling the yellows, the fourth hardest colour.

But, I couldn’t get this frickin’ orange. I tried three times a week, for three weeks. For three weeks I tried to getย  up this bloody wall and at one particular place I would just keep crashing to the ground.

I watched other people do it. I tried to copy them; tried getting that one hold numerousย  different ways. I still fell. My unofficial climbing tutor tried showing me the ‘weak way’ of doing it (meaning my body wasn’t quite up to the power moves just yet), and no luck there either.

So, I must have tried this fuuuuckin’ route around 60 or so times. Every time I fucked up, and I got more and more upset with myself, and more and more desperate to get it done before they reset the orange routes.

Then, on Sunday. I managed to complete a gray route I’d been working on for two weeks! Yassssssss! NAILED IT! I jumped down from the wall and made my way straight across the room. To the orange. Then, I just… did it!?

I BLOODY DID IT.

Then, I began to wonder…

Why the actual hell don’t I apply this attitude to the rest of my life?

I tried this frickin’ thing a thousand times and failed a thousand times. And then I just… did it! I succeeded. After so much hard work, and so much failure.

I don’t think I’d let myself fail something that many times, ever, before.

And I think it’s because, outside of the Lab, I:

  1. Give up pretty easily when I fail at something, thinking “well, I guess this isn’t for me after all”.
  2. Don’t even try in the first place because I am so absolutely terrified of failing that I would rather hold onto the dream of reaching something than actually try to reach it and fail.

And no. 2 is what I’m concerned with right now. So, as you may or may not be aware, I am a blogger. I am blogging. Here I am, blogging away. Writing. You’re reading this. We can safely say in some capacity that I am a writer, however mediocre.

But, bloody hell it’s taken me SO LONG to start actually blogging on the regular, to start sharing my poetry and actually performing it! I have loved writing pretty much my whole life, and I’m now 24 and only just really deciding to go all in and try make a career out of it.

Why? BECAUSE I WAS LITERALLY TERRIFIED OF FAILING.

(And I still am).

At least every week I have a panic because I’m sure that everything is going to fall apart and I’ll never make it as a writer. And this is because writing is something that really matters to me. I care about writing something of value, I care about helping people by talking about mental health. I care about people emotionally connecting with my poetry. I care about being able to express myself accurately through this keyboard. I care.

I care soooo much that for a long time I didn’t even try.

This sounds totally ridiculous. But I can guess that this is something most people do. The idea of making it as a writer is exciting, and fun. But the reality of throwing myself into reaching that goal and then failing, would probably crush me so much that I would have just ruined my life forever. So. I guess I’ll just not even try.

NO. Fuck that! If that orange has taught me anything, it’s that I’m allowed to fail. I wasn’t strong enough to complete the orange to begin with. I didn’t have the right technique. I didn’t gain the skills necessary to get me up with wall. This is exactly the same with everything else. I’m not going to be a writer out of sheer will. I’m going to be a writer from pitching an idea a thousand times, and being rejected 999 times. I’m going to get there by having blog posts get 0 likes and by being met with indifference or scorn, or being told I don’t have talent or creativity. I’m going to get there by failing.

I think I’m now finally up for that challenge.

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