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Anoushé and Para Climbing: “It’s okay to fail”

Last month, Anoushé shared with us the challenges she faced trying new sports with health issues. Now, she tells us how she overcame her fear of being the newbie.

Scared of starting a new sport? Aren’t we all!

How often have you felt scared of starting a new activity or sport, especially when it’s in a group? I have, every single time. I really don’t like starting new sports, even less so when needing to coordinate what I’m doing with a crowd who are seemingly infallible.

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Besides being worried about how I look in my sports clothes and whether I’ll fit in with the group or make friends, I also worry because I look physically different and often carry several fake arms with me (depending on the sport) which can frankly attract a lot of staring.

I often start my new sports or activities in a small group or 1–1 session, mainly because I have extra questions regarding my disabilities. A couple of years back I decided to try a body balance class: a mix of tai-chi, yoga and pilates all timed to music. Picture this, I walk into a room full of people I don’t know, copy them as they pick up and place their yoga mats, take off their shoes and socks and the music starts. Everyone around me is in position, they all know what they are doing, I pretend to know, until I end up in exactly the opposite direction of the whole class. I’ve been found out, the newbie who didn’t want to admit it.

Do you know what though? No one cares. Everyone who starts a new sport is going to be bad at it the first few times round, it’s completely normal! Once I got found out, people around me would guide me out and show me the moves ahead of the class. I made friends because I wasn’t so defensive and suddenly I was part of a community. This kept me motivated to keep going. Gradually, I got better and then people were looking to me for guidance.

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Climbing was a very different experience. From day one I was taught that it’s perfectly okay to be very frank about what you don’t know. In fact, honesty really has become the best policy. People appreciate that you don’t know and this created a safe space for me to learn to accept that it’s really okay to begin at the beginning. It’s okay to be bad at something. No one expects you to be perfect, so why are we putting pressure on ourselves to be so?

One of the first things I was taught as a climber was to fall safely because frankly, I fall a lot. The other thing I was taught is that falling is not failure. Doing something wrong the first time round or any time round is not failure. Unless you are in competition, you will always get the chance to try something again and with that, falling is no longer failure, it’s an opportunity. An opportunity to try different options, to test what your body can do, to learn and to eventually succeed.

I am no longer afraid to fall, I am no longer afraid to “fail” because this all contributes to me doing something right. What’s amazing is that this mentality has now permeated my whole life. I’m much more spontaneous, I put less pressure on myself and I have learnt to accept that it’s perfectly okay to be bad at something, as long as you enjoy it!

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This Girl Can celebrates the active women everywhere who are doing their thing no matter how they do it, how they look or even how sweaty they get.

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