Social anxiety doesn't have to stop you from having great new experiences. Look, proof!
Upon entry into Seven Bays Indoor Bouldering you're welcomed by a very mellow atmosphere - which I thought was a bit funny considering the intensity of the sport - with a very large open cafe space full of people sipping, reading, or working on their laptops. This is where we started the evening.
The initial scan of the room revealed the perfect sitting area for this meet. A large U shaped bench with cushions by the massive windows that line the front of the building.. and it was inhabited by a snuggling couple. Alyssa and I, early because we're responsible adults -not because I needed time to tame my anxiety - lied in wait for the oh so happy couple to vacate our dream booth. To our delight, they must have decided to take the party home and we nabbed that perfect sitting area.
Some of us got a warm beverage, some of us then moved on to some stronger beverages (guilty) to help build up a little courage to scale the foreboding walls in the next room. After chatting a bit about our anxiety, some of the different treatment options a few of us are familiar with, and of course friendly banter with lots of laughing, we finally made our way into the other side of Seven Bays.
Funny looking elf shoes, signing of the classic waiver, and hands covered in white chalk; we timidly made our way towards the walls. Holy S!@#. There's a lot of people. A lot. Did I mention there was a lot of people? This was intimidating enough for a person without anxiety. And that's what is so great about this group. Somehow, by being together we give each other the support needed to push past our boundaries. Tentatively we started on the easy climbs, for me I made it about half way up the wall before jumping down into the fun squishy padding below.
There was this strange natural flow in the room. Everyone was taking their turns on the walls in a way that wasn't manufactured or monitored. They were all aware of each other's space and sharing their own. The pure desire to do something fun that they enjoy was immediately evident. No one seemed to be judging others abilities, or laughing when someone 'failed'. There was no failing, they were trying and they were learning. Whether they did so by continuing to attempt the same climb to master it, or standing on the sidelines interpreting the other climbers. They were there because they're determined. Despite my anxiety of being around all these people, I loved this atmosphere.
Eventually finding our grooves and getting more comfortable we started moving up the intensity scale and trying harder climbs. Personally, I didn't go that far up the scale, but some of the other members had great bravery and determination to give it there all. (I think I was having more fun jumping down from so high without spraining an ankle) Sweaty, covered in chalk with aching hands, we decided to call it quits for the night and made our way outside. The frigid air on our arrival was refreshing on our exit from all that physical activity.
A few of us stayed in the cafe for a bit afterwards and talked like friends. I had an amazing time at this event and I think I fall more in love with this concept after each meet we hold. Shout out to the first timer that joined us, newbies are the best.
Thank you to all that came out. Whether your visit was brief or for the entirety of the event, your presence was enjoyed. Without all of you taking the huge leap I know it can be to put yourself out there and meet new people this wouldn't be possible.