I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I was searching at the time for a change and for something different to do. Mountain biking was the first activity I looked into, but that seemed expensive—looking back now, I can see it probably would have been cheaper. However, what I did find in climbing was a sense of purpose, belonging and community.
My intent is to show others that they can climb as well. I post here because I want people to see someone who may look like themselves climbing and having a good time. Finding belonging has been a harder journey for me. At first, I didn’t really have anyone to relate to in the sport and the community. No one at the gym looked like me. Did I even belong in the sport? Did I fit into the community?
Finding community felt harder as I felt as though I was an imposter. After some time I started to find a group of people I am able to connect with. I’m learning to love myself for what I am. Working on self esteem through therapy and not worrying what others thought of me helped in finding community as well. I initially judged myself from what I assumed others thought. These thoughts worsened when I continued to only see the perfection that we all see as we scroll through Instagram.
Climbing media and social media do a disservice by showing only perfection. That hits hard for those of us with self-esteem issues.
But on the other side of things, I continue to find my climbing community online. I have found the people I can be authentically myself with while chasing my goals. I know I can go pretty much anywhere in the U.S. and find a spot to crash. I have climbing friends who will accept me for who I am. A climber.
See Jeremy Arntz’s account, @sleepeatclimbrepeat, for a related post, written concurrently with Hulsey’s.