Where Confidence Comes From

The rock wall and the wild pitch.

John Gorman
6 min readJul 29, 2023
Photo by Ahmed Carter on Unsplash

A ways back, I was learning to rock climb. Or, more accurately, learning to “boulder,” since there’s a distinction. I won’t go far as to say you should try it, but it’s a helluva workout.

You stare at a wall, assess oddly-shaped colored pieces jutting out, then attempt to climb to the top.

Each day in the rock gym, I saw chiseled, limber bros with man-buns — the kind of men you see in Michelob Ultra commercials or under a string of Edison-bulb Christmas lights on a rooftop in Bushwick — scaling walls like upside-down spider-monkeys in the blink of an eye.

Each time, I’d immediately tense up and think, “Fuck this shit. I’m gonna get laughed out of this joint. This is going to be just like the day I did CrossFit.”

Anyway, when you “boulder” — sorry, it’s a stupid verb and you know it — fear starts to take hold as you rise ever higher, and you start sweating the possibility of missing your mark and tumbling to your doom.

Knowing this, I decided to embark on a bold and seemingly capricious strategy: I would fall on purpose after each successive rung. So, climb one rung, fall, climb two rungs, fall, climb three, etc., etc.—y’all can count, y’all get it.



John Gorman

Yarn Spinner + Brand Builder + Renegade. Award-winning storyteller with several million served. For inquiries: johngormanwriter@gmail.com