Yesterday, I went rock climbing with friends (in an indoor gym in case you were wondering - it's COLD in Philly right now). We took turns climbing, encouraging each other as we scrambled or in my case hoisted quite ungracefully up the walls.
When you're watching someone climb from the ground, it suddenly becomes very clear what move they should make next. You have the vision to see where the easy footholds and handholds are. If you've climbed the same course beforehand, you know exactly what sequence would be best for them to get to the top without tiring out. You're the expert. Or so you think.
When you're climbing, however, it's a whole different story. Your body is fatigued, you are right up against the wall so it's difficult to see where the rocks are, and you're trying not to look down, lest you see how far you've come and how far it would be to drop to the floor. The course that from the ground seemed so straightforward can take a completely different turn with each person that climbs it.
At one point, when I was frantically searching for my next handhold, my friend shouted up from the ground, "You've passed the hardest part! You've got this!" Out of breath, I laughingly shouted back, "No, now I'm at the hardest part!"
Afterwards, my arms shaking as I gave my friends a high-five, I realized that half of my motivation to get up that wall (or 3/4 of the way up that wall if we're being honest) was my friends' encouragement. Having them point out a foothold that I wouldn't have seen otherwise was a huge help. I couldn't see it, because I was too close to my own story.
There's a balance needed of course, as there is so often in life. We think we see exactly where someone else should go next, especially if we've been in a similar situation. We think since our story turned out this way, the next person's story should as well. It comes from a place of such support, yet each person's story is so unique. The hardest part to you may be only the calm before the hardest part of the storm to someone else.
I'm so lucky I have friends to let me know where my next foothold is should I want to pursue it, and that I also have the ability to figure out my next move in my own story myself.