blurr ambassador Jon Sedor is competing the weekend, all the best from the crew at blurr. From Jon's blog...
I hate this feeling. It always happens before a major competition, or well, really before any competition. Butterflies soar freely in my stomach and I start to second-guess if I trained hard enough. I suppose the silver lining, this time, would be that my anxiety didn’t kick in until the week of the competition, right?
This week I will be driving to Madison, Wisconsin to compete in ABS Nationals. This is not the first time I’ve competed in Nationals, and it won’t be my last time either. However, my nerves tend to get the best of me before any type of competition setting. I feel on edge and all my thoughts become a huge traffic jam in my brain. I don’t even like competitions and if any of you know me well enough from when I was younger, it’s not secret that team sports and any kind of structured competition was not my style. I even convinced my high school to let me ride BMX for gym credit instead of having a coach tell me I can’t lift heavy things in the weight room – so why would I ever compete in climbing? Didn’t the guys who started this whole climbing lifestyle originally risk life and limb (sometimes literally) for the sake of adventure and to push one’s own limits? I would assume the answer is yes to the last question, however, that’s not the point of this post. The point is that I dislike competing because of the pressure I put on myself. My coach, girlfriend, and sponsors only support me and encourage me. Not one of those people ever put inappropriate amounts of pressure on me to “do well” – it all comes from within me. The difference this year, is that I have placed the same amount of pressure on myself to do well, win, or whatever, but I’m working on controlling my anxiety in a constructive manner. I have no problem saying I’m nervous. I have no issue saying I worked hard and I want it to pay off. The issue is that I place such high expectations on myself when I cannot always reach my goal, or no other outcome is satisfactory for me. So what’s the secret to staying calm? How can I control the thoughts zooming around my brain? Well for me the answer, so far, has been meditation. Yes, I said meditation. Was I skeptical at first? Yes. Did I think meditation is only stupid hippy shit? Yes. Was I completely wrong to assume all of this? YES.
Till a few weeks ago, I thought meditation was a waste of time. I thought it was for tree hugging idiots that want to get in touch and explore their feelings, be like “Zen” or something. Quite honestly, I don’t want to know the inner workings of my brain and go explore how messed up my head could be – it freaks me out. But after my girlfriend and another close friend kept nudging me over time to give meditation a try, I finally agreed to sit still for 10 minutes (which is basically impossible for me). Since I have no idea how to meditate I went looking for guided meditations. A friend recommended an iPhone app called Headspace. After the first attempt at becoming enlightened I felt nothing change – in fact my head hurt from trying to concentrate on my breathing plus what I physically felt in my body when my ADHD lets me think of three separate topics at the same time (yes, I’m serious). The second day I sat still again…sort of…and I followed the instructions of the voice. After the second session I actually felt calmer or a bit less stressed. I have since learned that meditation is not simply to delve into the psyche and analyze our subconscious and bottled up feelings, but it is a tool to help keep us in the present. We all have worries, fears, etc. and you cannot stop them from happening – it’s a part of being human. Previously my answer was to ignore these feelings and pretend they don’t exist. I was wrong. The idea is to acknowledge these feelings, but to let these thoughts pass on their own. The idea is to distance oneself from all the thoughts zooming through our heads but to stay in the present. We want to avoid a traffic jam of ideas and feelings in our brain, and to not feed into anxieties that we all have in life. Although I still am learning how to do this, I’m confident it will become easier over time. I’m actually excited about ABS Nationals this year, but not because of the competition aspect to the trip, or that I might win. I mostly cannot wait to see friends that live out West or down South that I cannot see often enough. Does this mean that I won’t do my best or give myself excuses if I don’t do well? Not at all, no matter what happens I will continue to push myself to improve as a person and a climber. I’m just happy I’m a bit more relaxed, in general, and that I get to climb with some amazing people from all over the country.