Well this isn't news anymore because I have been lamenting this blog post for a couple of weeks but recently someone climbed El Capitan in Yosemite National Park without ropes. His name is Alex Honnold and despite the fact that he made history, he seems pretty chill and humble. National Geographic interviewed him after his historic ascent and I had a lot of feelings about it.
So to summarize, this guy just made history and risked his life after climbing a huge 3,000 foot high rock wall without any type of safety support. When interviewed right after his ascent, Honnold informed the reporter he would probably hang board (rock climber exercise) later in the day. When the reporter asked him why he wasn't taking the afternoon off after making history he told them he had been hang boarding every other day and it was the other day.
Here's the thing, if I do something important like finishing editing a film or take an exam my first reaction is to reward myself with a big break. After all, I deserve it, right? I never really saw a problem with treating yo' self a little bit after putting all of your energy into something great. That is how it works, or so I thought until Alex Honnold climbed up a giant rock and shattered my dreams. Faced with the biggest achievement of his career, he moved along like it was any other day and continued his daily business without a moment to congratulate himself or allow himself a breather. It's a lesson in dedication and humility.
I'm in that stage in my career where I am kind of floundering around and sometimes I feel really great about myself and my skills and sometimes feel like literally the least talented person in the world. My flip-flopping emotions affect my work- sometimes I am taking and posting photos and working on films everyday and sometimes I go days thinking that nothing I make is good enough to show people. I want to consider myself a professional freelancer but sometimes I think that goal is completely unattainable.
But then I read Alex's interview and understood something basic but profound- he just does the work. He sets goals and he does the work necessary to achieve them. He didn't care that a film crew was following him around during his historic descent, he didn't care that he achieved his goal, it was an other day. It was hang boarding day. He was putting in the work, as usual. The circumstances of the day and the fanfare meant next to nothing to him. I don't know for sure, but I suspect he reacts the same way when he has a particularly shitty day, just picks himself up, has lunch, and goes about his usual afternoon routine. If achieving a life-long goal doesn't make him break his training, I doubt some self-loathing does.
I think I just need to find my El Capitan. I need to set goals for myself and put in the work to achieve those goals everyday. Doesn't matter if I have a great day or a terrible one- I just have to continue my daily work as usual. There is nothing easy about trying to create a life for yourself in your twenties, but it's a lot harder when you let every triumph and setback shake you and throw you off of your flow. It doesn't matter how many likes the photo gets or if you lose followers. It just matters that you are creating the work. You just have to stand in front of the looming rock wall and make the first move.