I'm not here to condemn anyone or point fingers. However, I do want to bring to light something that I have observed in the climbing community, as well as in the general public.
I want discuss why I think it happens, offer some encouraging thoughts on the matter, and give some insight toward how bailing and your comfort zone are connected. I would also love to hear your thoughts and feedback about the subject.
I have noticed two different types of bailing. Obviously, there is the classic type of bailing: making plans with someone and then unmaking them right before the planned plan. The other type of bailing is what I would call bailing on yourself, on your own commitments and goals.
First of all, I think telling someone "no" is hard to do. So we say yes. And then we (Fill in the blank) so we won't have to anymore. Also, we are a society that is overrun with distractions, drugs, peer-pressure, infectious behavior, and plenty of "easy streets" to walk down. And I love it all! Ask my old wrestling partners; I'm the king of taking the easy street. I would joke around and slack off at practice. I'm not perfect and I certainly don't avoid some of lifes' guilty pleasures. However, I also won't deny that all of those distractions make it easier and more appealing to bail on people.
Over the years, I have slowly lost hope in a large majority of people to actually commit to what they say they will do. I think it's because people like the "idea" of doing things but not actually putting forth the effort to do them. We talk the talk, but don't walk the walk. Our fears and uncertainties have a lot to do with it. But how do we change that?
Now that I'm a crusty old sage, and I've turned youthful mistakes into boat loads of wisdom, I have a challenge for you: When you make a plan with someone and the time comes to carry out that plan and you don't feel like doing it anymore, I challenge you to do it anyway! Do something uncomfortable. Hang out with a new person/climbing partner. Wake up earlier than you want. It's snowing? Get your puffy and hand warmers! Whatever your plan is, commit to it!
But don't just do it for their sake. Do it for yourself!
I think it's important because it promotes growth, it expands your comfort zone, and it builds character. I can't tell you how many times I have followed through with a plan that I wasn't entirely stoked on and ended up really appreciating the experience in the end. And I'm sure my climbing partner did too. Can you think of a similar moment? Maybe you hesitantly started up a "scary" route - one that you didn't really feel comfortable doing - but you did it anyway? Were you happy you did it?
Obviously, there are good reasons to bail and I believe it is important to check the risk vs. reward factors. How sick is too sick? How cold is too cold? What is a reasonable hour to wake up? Too much drinking the night before? Was it worth it? Does it align with your goals/values? How scary is too scary? Why do we decide to do one thing over another? My question is: can we be honest with each other as well as ourselves about our commitment level? And can we follow through and not bail on ourselves?
Paradoxically, telling someone "yes" when you really want to say "no," is bailing. It's bailing on yourself.
Essentially, this is how we've learned to do everything in life. Walking, learning what foods we like, making friends, and even learning how to ride a bike; all of these we had to learn. At some point in our lives, these things were challenging, unfamiliar, and out of our comfort zones (some of these might still be!). We have progressed through life by taking chances, making mistakes, and getting dirty - why stop now?
So, next time you feel like bailing, take a second, re-think your entire life, meditate on it, align your chakra, visualize all the wonderful experiences and lessons and character building you could be missing out on, and decide if you really think it's worth ruining someone else's day just because you didn't "feel like it" anymore...
But seriously, who wants to go bouldering this weekend? Supposed to be really bad weather, below freezing. No bailers please. You're either in or your out. :)
See y'all on the rocks!