The Moment My World Stopped Spinning #BehindTheBlogger

My life has been nothing if not a winding road full of "wrong" turns and misdirections. I put "wrong" in quotes because, if it hadn't been for all the misguided paths I've taken in my life, I may not be where I am today - and where I am today is pretty perfect. So I guess, truly, in the grand scheme of things, all those "wrong" turns I took added up to one big "right".

The Leadup

I grew up in a small town in central Indiana. I went to Indiana University, a Big 10 school, because it had what seemed like an infinite number of majors, and I had less than no idea what I wanted to do with my life at 19 years old (does any 19 year old truly know what they want to do with their life when they go to college? I mean it took me another eight years to actually figure out what I wanted to do with mine...) I went in as a music major, immediately changed my major to spanish, then a semester later to journalism, then two years later to Chinese with a minor in Political Science. I studied abroad in China, went to graduate school, and received my Master of Arts in Foreign Policy with a focus in US-Asia relations and a specialization in Chinese domestic politics in 2012 (yes, seriously). I spent pretty much all the money I'll ever have in my life getting a degree I'll never use. LOL forever.

I lived in DC from 2010-2015. I originally moved there to pursue my Master's degree at American University, with big dreams of working in the intelligence community when I graduated. I even interviewed for what I thought was my dream job! Oh, how hilariously wrong I was. Life in DC is cutthroat. It is expensive, and crowded, and rushed, and exhausting, and competitive. Don't get me wrong, it was actually a cool place to live for the amount of time that we did - it just isn't somewhere I'd be able to live for the rest of my life. By 2013, I was starting to feel drained, and lost - I hadn't gotten the jobs I had hoped I would, I wasn't loving what I was doing, and in fact, I really wasn't loving the entire field my degree had funneled me into. I felt like a giant failure. I had worked so hard for all of these things, and what had it gotten me? Nothing.

Then, I found climbing.

Many of my readers know the story by now - my friend Shizu and I purchased Living Socials for open climb sessions and top rope belay lessons at Sport Rock Climbing Centers in Alexandria, Virginia, and started going to open climb every Sunday. A friend of ours heard we were trying climbing, and convinced us to try bouldering. Since then, I have been hooked. I fell in love with the climbing community, with the supportive and accepting people that engage in the sport and the physical and mental challenges that the sport offers its athletes.

The Moment My World Stopped Spinning

Another family at my gym invited me to go climbing with them in the Red River Gorge over Memorial Day weekend in 2014, and I accepted. I had never been climbing outside (as I'd only been climbing seriously for about 6 months), but it sounded fun and like a new challenge I wanted to tackle. So, I went.

We spent the weekend hiking around, finding climbs, working on them (I was only on top rope at the time as I hadn't learned to lead), and just generally having an amazing time. I met the Eskin family during this trip, a family I remain very close to today, and the family that I credit with creating the initial spark that led my life to coaching youth climbers. We spent one morning in the Chocolate Factory, an area of the Red I have a soft spot for, as it was where I was standing when I realized what I wanted to do with my life.

We were all working a classic line called Pure Imagination, a climb way outside any of our abilities, but that we wanted to try anyway. I was standing on the belay zone, looking up at this beautiful climb, and I had this huge epiphany - "Oh my gosh, I am wasting my entire life." My whole life until that point had been focused on achievement, and goal-setting, and comparing myself to others. I could almost literally feel my world stop spinning as I was standing there looking up at that climb. It was then that I decided that I was going to quit focusing on all of these tangible measurements of my self-worth, and start focusing on my own actual happiness and fulfillment.

Now, I'm a climbing coach, and I couldn't be happier. I feel completely fulfilled by my job, something I never would have imagined was possible a few years ago. Do I make good money? No, I don't. But, things like that are so secondary to how much I love my job, and my kids. I can credit that trip to the Red and that moment standing under Pure Imagination with showing me what it was that I wanted to dedicate my life to.

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  1. Your epiphany is so true! I had the same moment once- a "what am I doing with my life" moment. I knew how it felt to be disappointed in the way things had turned out. For me, it was running that changed everything for me. I do obstacle races now and I'm super happy with my life! My career is still a work in progress, but I'd rather work to live than live to work! Congrats on finding your true passion!


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