I went skiing for the first time this month.
Now, before you start rolling your eyes at me, this is not one of those “fall 7 times, get up 8” or “practice makes perfect” blogs. These falls taught me something different.
See, I understood that when most people go skiing for the first time that they fall. So by the time I was at the top of my first bunny slope, I was prepared for falling. I was prepared for falling a lot – for falling hard, for falling awkwardly, for even falling in ways nobody has ever thought to fall before! I was ready for that. I was ready for that part of the learning process.
The funny thing, though, was I didn’t fall that much. Not on the bunny slopes, anyway. I mean, of course I fell a few times. But nothing significant. I even moved up to the green (more difficult) runs relatively quickly. That’s where my real learning began.
On Green Run #1, I was terrified. I don’t even like going down a hill fast on a bike! And here I was, speeding down the side of a mountain on two oversized toothpicks. As I flew down the mountain, my head was a slur of 4-letter expletives and a single, long syllable: “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”
I didn’t fall on that run at all. My heart-rate spiked, my body started shaking, and by the end of the run, I was so dizzy from fear I had to sit down for an hour. But I didn’t fall.
Green Run #2: this was the big one. My goal was to slow it down – to slow myself down by skiing perpendicular to the run as much as possible. This… is where I fell the most. I fell and slipped under the ski lift (which is super dangerous, btw, I do not recommend). Twice. I ate it in the middle of the run. I lost a ski. I lost the other ski. I lost the first ski again. I did some combination of a tumble and somersault down a portion of the mountain.
By the time I was finally at the bottom, there was a long line for the lift back up. I was able to have some space to think as I shimmied my way through the line. I was surprised that I wasn’t upset about any fall. I wasn’t judging myself. I wasn’t embarrassed or ashamed in any way. But something was wrong. Something was off.
On the ski lift, on the way to my Green Run #3, I figured out what my deal was.
I was afraid of going fast! Not because I was in some way scared of hurting myself, though. No, if that were the case, I would have super-freaked when my ankle twisted in Green Run #2. No. I was afraid of hurting everybody else on that mountain. I was afraid of crashing into people. I was afraid of breaking them. I was afraid that people would die because of me. So my falling, putting myself in jeopardy, being unsafe – it was all fine. As long as nobody else got hurt.
As I sat on that lift riding up to Green Run #3, I also realized that particular fear wasn’t unique to skiing. I realized that I held myself back or would slow myself down in a lot of ways in my life all in the name of protecting other people. So at the beginning of Green Run #3, I stood at the top of the mountain staring down at all the people skiing/snowboarding down for probably 5 minutes in self-talk mode.
“You didn’t hurt anyone on Green Run #1, Christina. They’re ok. You’re ok. You can weave around these people. See the idea of accidentally killing them leave your head – it’s not helping you.” … “Are you ready?” “No.”
“Are you ready?” “No.”
“Are you ready?” “Yes.”
“Ok.” *lift off* “F*#K, I’m scared!” “But you’re ready. Keep going…”
And I did. And I didn’t fall.
My hope for you, reader, is that the only person you pause for in the future is yourself. I hope you trust yourself enough to take the path that’s true for you at the pace that keeps you safe — even if you get scared along the way.
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