Resilience and roller-skating go hand in hand. You slip up and fall on your butt, with your hands slapping the concrete besides you. You look up, praying no one saw, and a little voice says in the back of your head “This is the important bit, go on, get back up.”
Resilience was something I was seriously lacking. I had entertained it with yoga, but yoga was so forgiving that resilience didn’t really get a solid foundation.
It all started when I was having a picnic with a new group of friends. We watched a roller-skater glide down the hill, and my friend said “why don’t we get some skates?” I simply said, “alright then.”
I had no idea what I was looking for when I started to look for skates, I just knew I needed them for the next venture of my life. Really, I knew I had to get them before I bottled it, or before I started to care whether I would get laughed at, ridiculed, or asked “Why would you want to do that?”.
They were sent to my friends’ house, and she encouraged me gently when I shakily put my foot in the boot.
I fell over so many times, which made me feel absolutely startled, surprised and shocked. I imagined I would take to it like a duck to water, and I would skate backwards all the way home. Instead, I furrowed my eyebrows, wondered what I had done, and the next day I tried again. I did it consecutively for 7 days to make sure that 1) I would not let being bad stop me from trying, and 2) no matter how many times I fell, I would get back up.
I also found peace with the fact that so many people would inevitably see me fall and that only I would know the hard work I was putting in, and only I would see the progress.
Gradually, many people around me started to get their skates on. My friends bought some, or dusted off their old ones. People started to come up to me to ask how long I had been skating, where I got my skates from, whether I would like to skate with them. I gradually started to build a circle of skating friends.
Yet, I still savoured those solo skates where I would try something new, and fall and fall and fall until I succeeded. I would put my music in, and for once in my life, I would not think. For hours, I would keep on trying. For a month, people stopped asking why I was all bruised. The answer was always a happy grin and me saying “I fell over again.” Falling over stopped being something I was afraid of. Instead, I see a fall as inevitable, so I should celebrate the smooth skates, wear all my pads and feel absolutely confident in myself.
Katie also bought some skates. When she first fell unceremoniously on the floor, her hands slapped the concrete, and her big eyes looked up with shock colouring her irises. I shouted
“Come on girl, this is the important bit! Get back up!”
“I don’t know how!” Sometimes, with the shock of falling and of hitting that hard, unforgiving concrete, that you forget how to get back up onto your feet. That’s when friends are crucial.
“Crawl on your toe stops!” I yelled at her. I have a firm rule that when someone learns to skate, I do not help them in any way: it sounds harsh, but learning through falling eventually teaches you that no matter what, your skate will be there to anchor you to the ground. We mostly ignore falls, and celebrate every win to shift the focus from the embarrassment, and onto the confidence. We clap and high-five when we succeed.
The skating community is built on learning from one another, and teaching each other new skills. I love it. The overall mantra is “we learn from each other, we don’t compete with each other”. I realize that is something I hold dear to my heart. Now, when I see people doing well I just feel proud of them, and skate up to their elbows to quietly ask for advice.
I was invited to the roller rink in my city. Immediately, I said yes, and met two friends there. I learned so many new skills, and felt my heart skating on the clouds above me. Afterwards, a new friend came up to me to give me a hug goodbye after a skate session. My friend smiled and said “you make friends everywhere you go.” I turned away and laughed it off, but she had no idea how much that meant to me. I walked home completely elated at the community I have found myself in. I would never have described myself as someone who makes friends anywhere I go.
So what is the point of this post?
Gym taught me to get strong. Embroidery taught me to focus on creativity. Yoga taught me to love myself unconditionally.
Roller-skating taught me resilience for when I can’t be strong, I can’t be creative and self-love feels impossible. Come on, you. Pick yourself back up.
Get back up, my friend. You can do it. I believe in you. Fall your way to success. Trip over your feet, and smile when you save yourself.
Jump, and the universe will catch you. Try something brand new.
PS: another lesson: never skate without protection!