Hello Young Kate! This is a note from yourself, 8 years from now. You see, I’ve been inspired by some friends to look back at old photos and I’ve noticed some things. I thought you might appreciate a little advice from the future, just to let you know everything works out, though maybe not as you expected.
I see you decided to buy yourself a harness and pair of new, shiney climbing shoes! Too bad you didn’t believe the guy at the climbing store when he tried to sell you those Mythos. They end up being some of your favorite shoes in the future. But, everybody is new, and your gear will work fine. A note to start out, though. Wearing only a sport bra does NOT make you look nearly as cool as you think it does. Just sayin’.
Your learning years in the mid-west will be important ones. And believe it or not, the Red River Gorge is actually a great place to climb. Yeah, I know, it’s hot and humid and crowded and you have to thrash through shrubbery to get to the climbs. But, someday, the place will become so popular, your memories will seem positively quaint. Cherish your moments in Kentucky, but know there are bigger and better things out there for you. You’ll move to Colorado. You’ll climb huge routes. You’ll have plenty of adventures. Stop complaining.
Leading may seem scarey now, but it will get worse. When the inevitable anxiety disorder catches up to you (it’s hereditary, don’t fight it, just understand it), you need to be ready for everything to get harder. So, for now, keep leading, and don’t let others do all of the work. The more you do now, the easier it will be later. Lead more in the gym, lead more outside, and don’t let that silly beginner’s confidence slip away from you.
You’re falling in love with Mark, and it’s only going to get worse. It may seem extremely unlikely right now, but you will marry him, and it will be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made.
It sounds cheesy, but you will regret the things you don’t do more than the ones you do. Every time you get scared and think you can’t do something, imagine me, 8 years in the future, thinking back to that moment and wondering what amazing person I would have become if I would have kept going. Your best climbs will always be the ones you want to walk away from. You’ll think they’re too hard, or too long, or too unknown. But it always works out, because you and Mark are smart, thoughtful, and capable climbers. These “impossible” climbs will be the most memorable, and often your favorites. I don’t know why it is this way. It just is.
Cherish the time with your friends, because people wander in and out freely in this world.
And wear more sunscreen, ya idiot.