I was reading someone’s thoughtful thoughts today, about adventures and sexism and such. About the way (generalizing here) that boys get pushed towards fearless risk taking and girls get pushed towards timidness and staying well away from risk.
I suppose some people see me that way, a male person taking risks and going on wild crazy adventures. I don’t see it that way. I have no doubt that my life has been hugely effected for better and worse by the way my culture has assigned and interpreted my gender for me (thanks culture…actually no just kidding) but this has also changed the way other people see me.
So, for the record, I’m often timid. I’m pretty cautious and the “risks” I take are often not that risky…I’ve spent hundreds if not thousands of hours in a climbing harness so standing at the edge of a cliff in a harness clipped to a rope that’s tied to an anchor in the rock is normal for me. It’s not risky. The first time it was super scary, and some times it’s still scary, but statistically I’d lump it in the “safer then driving in a car” category.
And yet…some things scare me a lot…others less so. Riding a bike on a busy road was pretty scary for about a minute before I realized it actually didn’t seem too bad. Scrambling down a rocky ridge in the dark was terrifying…I actually had to stop half way down and cry for a while. Then I felt better and kept going but other times I turn back because it’s just not fun any more.
Scrambling down that ridge (for four hours in the dark) was crazy though, no one else was there, and I sure as hell didn’t feel like whipping out my camera. It’s easy to see why people don’t see this part of my adventures. Why they see the photos and hear about the things I’ve hiked and climbed and assume I’m that guy who’s never scared and coolly does crazy things in the wilderness.
I’m cautious enough to avoid a lot of terrifying sketch-fests, but I’ve had my fare share of moments, often on a cliff and often in the dark, when the tears well up and I wonder why the fuck I do this shit. It’s horrible. And in between these more extreme moments are all the usual awkward and scary things…from social situations to new activities to writing blog posts and wondering what people will think.
So yeah, I guess I’m male and I “go on crazy adventures” but don’t for a minute think I don’t get scared. And don’t assume I keep going when I get scared. Don’t assume I get to the top of every mountain (I don’t) and when I say I “go climbing” don’t assume I got to the top.
Some days “climbing” consists of messing about with ropes, getting cold or tired or scared, bailing, and then driving to some place warm and making hot coco.
I highly recommend it!