Is It Okay That I’m Here?

By Alanna Sobel

Toes touch down in a space I’ve never been before and thoughts land harder than the soles of my feet.

Insecurities bombard me with questions.

“Is it okay that I’m here?”

“Am I invading a space reserved for people of color?”

Very aware of my white skin and white privilege, I start second guessing myself and debating whether or not I should turn around and go home.

“My understanding was Soul Trak is open to all, but maybe I misread something, maybe I’m completely wrong?”

I had reached out to Soul Trak Founder Tyrhee Moore days before the event to say I was interested and he seemed to be excited to have another person joining.

“But maybe I put him in an uncomfortable situation?”

“Maybe he didn’t feel like he could be honest with me?”

Respecting sacred spaces is so important to me — was I being completely disrespectful?

My eyes dart around, searching for any sign that my presence is unwanted.

I hear someone say, “who wants to climb next?”

I sheepishly approach, words tumbling out, “would it be okay if I go next?”

Marlowe smiles broadly and says, “absolutely.”

I take a deep breath in and smile back at Marlowe.

He hands me a greenish cord and then shows me the ropes, literally, as he explains how to tie the knots for my belay.

He’s not only enabling people to climb, I realize, he’s also empowering people to understand how it all works.

In a matter of moments, I go from paralyzing concern to dancing along the wall, finding my own rhythm, and being open to whatever the day presents.

And wow, did it present well!

After my warm welcome from Marlowe, I felt more comfortable making small talk with more people. I enjoyed some good laughs with fellow Soul Trakers and admired how everyone flows to their own beat along the wall. It truly is like watching a musical performance, the unique ways our bodies turn, flex, and wiggle.

And the fun didn’t stop there.

Climbing was followed by a delicious home-cooked brunch. Pancakes spiked with cinnamon and nutmeg (chef’s secret!), fruit salad, scrambled eggs, and some perfectly-cooked sausage and peppers. Mmmmm, yes, take a moment to salivate with me.

In between gushing about the brilliance of adding spices to the pancakes and pouring ourselves some tasty beverages, Tyrhee initiated a group discussion, encouraging everyone to share personal reflections about the day’s experience. We all listened intently to each other, exchanging smiles, head nods, and many kind laughs.

And then a game of Mafia was enjoyed by all, bringing me back to the days of heads up seven up, and trusting that your fellow participants truly were keeping their eyes closed!

Throughout the entire day’s fun, it was the moment of sharing that really stood out to me. I’m drawn to spaces that encourage vulnerability. For some reason, I wasn’t expecting a climbing event to get on that level. It pleasantly surprised me and I so genuinely appreciated the opportunity to listen and to share.

What became apparent to me rather quickly is that Soul Trak is building the type of community I want to be a part of, long-term. A community that accepts you as you are, likes to have a good time, and encourages openness and a positive outlook.

I’m honored to be a Soul Trak member and I hope you’ll join us at the next gathering!