Bear with me on this one. It involves both grades and comparing myself to other people - two ugly and uncouth aspects of climbing. But there is a purpose and of course it's absolutely nothing to do with ego or willy-waving - it is just trying to understand a bit more about my climbing, my strengths and weaknesses (and thus how to keep progressing and/or keep enjoying it).
So I've climbed with several good climbers through my time in Scotland (yup I eventually managed to find climbing partners, albeit away from the trad climber drought in Glasgow). Some of these people I consider my peers, some of these people I aspire to climb as well at. Almost all of these people I get on well with and have a good time climbing with, so I respect them as well. They are all experienced trad climbers who also do other disciplines and usually train and try hard. When I climb with them down the wall (where I sometimes flash 7a maximum) and outside, I've noticed a trend:
Climber 1: Can do quite a few power problems I can't do despite not focusing on bouldering. When fit climbs similar indoors but slower and smoother. Tallish, light, very hill-fit.
Comparative trad: 1-2 grades lower.
Climber 2: Warms up on 7a indoors, flashes 7b maybe harder. Tall, very mountain fit.
CT: ½ a grade harder usually but similar recently.
Climber 3: Regularly flashes 7b-7c indoors. Very light.
CT: ½ a grade harder usually.
Climber 4: Laps 7b+ upwards indoors. Flashes at least 7c+ outdoors. Very strong.
CT: 1 grade harder usually.
Climber 5: Can do quite a few fingery / cranky problems I can't do despite not focusing on bouldering. Tallish, light, fit.
CT: 1-2 grades lower.
Climber 6: Warms up climbing Teddy's 7b+ clean, flashed top half of Silk Purse after two falls on lower crux i.e. very sport fit.
CT: ½ a grade harder usually, I assume, but similar recently.
So it seems that comparatively, I do better than expected in trad. Or worse than expected indoor sport and bouldering. This is a small sample but my other climbing partners do little to contradict this.
Now bear in mind that I am traditionally a weak trad climber: I'm too slow, I faff around too long, I spend ages backing up gear, I get pumped far too easily, I struggle to commit to moves, I struggle to commit into the unknown, I'm terrified of falling and even getting into a position where I might fall. I've always been better physically rather than mentally, and performed better in bouldering and sport, especially indoors where the holds are obvious so I know what I'm committing too.
So how come I can do it?? How come I can SOMETIMES climb relatively well on trad despite it being my "weaker" discipline?? Well I can think of a couple explanations:
1. Inspiration and determination - I'm so passionate about trad and so inspired by it that I keep pushing hard and keep fighting to do the challenges I enjoy, both in preparation and on the route. Obviously other climbers do....but maybe I do it a little bit more??
2. I'm actually crap indoors - I'd just got the wrong perspective about my climbing. Maybe instead of being strong indoors and scared outdoors, I'm actually kinda weak indoors and kinda skilled enough outdoors. Or maybe just well balanced (in climbing styles not in mental harmony)??
In terms of this pondering being of any use, I guess it works in the context of "play to your strengths, work your weaknesses". Keep determined and inspired, but also realise my weakness might be weakness, and keep training hard...