On the Rebound: emotions after ACL surgery

The last couple months have been full of recovery mentally and physically. I feel that I've finally crested the mountain: my body parts are healed to the point I'm slowly climbing again, I've got a much better work-life balance, and I'm regaining emotional strength after switching jobs. Recovery itself can be mentally draining, but I'm much calmer and have much better perspective. The scariest part is realizing how unbalanced I was before.

Physically, I'm nearly back. I had fractured my foot in late Feb while getting back into running after the ACL surgery. Of course I didn't believe it and walked on it for most of March. The 2 weeks of staycation were great but also bittersweet. I had plans to hike and bike, and reluctantly wore a post-op boot for most of it. In the last couple weeks, I've climbed outdoors (cracks and slab on rope...whaaat!) and bouldered a bit in the gym. I've been training so much that I feel like I'm lazy and cheating! It feels awesome to have everything functioning.

Emotionally, I'm doing amazing (so Jeremy tells me). Burnout hits you hard, and harder than you realize. I've got a great support system at work with old colleagues who've told me you don't realize how stressed out you are until months afterward. You get used to a baseline level of stress, a noise floor, and it's difficult to see that until you fully disengage. My current manager is hugely supportive and understands--she's been through burnout too--and I've met more great people. They even say how happy a person I am! I take joy in the small things like that.

The biggest change in the last couple months has been perspective. It's hard to describe. It's like a sunrise breaking through mountain tops, or breaking through a cocoon as a butterfly...or some metaphor like that. I'm not Dalai Lama-level, but I've got much more self-awareness and detachment that's allowed me to enjoy more and put life in perspective.

Silicon Valley is an odd, odd place for work-life balance. Most climbers get the balance, want the balance (I'm here to chat with). It's still difficult working with people who work insane hours. Combine that with being super self-driven and it's a bad combo.

My toughest challenge now is mental. My main goal this year is to climb V10. I've been training hard and am in the best overall physical shape I've ever been in. I'm probably physically strong enough, and now it's all mental. There's a fear of climbing after having not climbed for 9 months--just the movement of it seems strange--and there's the self-pressure of having trained so much. V10 isn't just a numbers notch for me, it's more deeply rooted in coming back from injury and burnout. It's proving to myself that I can overcome all that with discipline and positive attitude. That in itself is a balance, to keep a goal to achieve while at the same time just enjoying the process.