I finally got down to writing my resolutions to 2017. I usually put them down on a loose piece of paper (easier to lose if the year is not going as planned). Haha. My first 2017 resolution is to confront my fears. I’m sure all of us have fears. Well I have a million fears. Some of them are so silly I most probably will never admit that I have them. First fear to confront for the new year is the fear of letting go and trying out new things at the risk of falling or better put failing.
As I stepped on the ice, the skates I was wearing slipped; I grabbed on to the side of the wall in a desperate attempt to stop myself from falling flat on my bum. With both my hands I tightly clutched the ledge. My feet were still slipping and I was kind of hanging to the ledge as my body was going ahead with my feet. I pulled back a little and tried to balance myself. It worked if I didn’t move at all. But since I was still standing in door and blocking other people from getting in I had to move and each movement made me slip again. I hadn’t fallen down yet but I was so scared that my legs would go in the opposite directions and I would break one of them, I wasn’t moving on ice. I decide to call quits and it was a really bad idea I told myself.
The boys had followed after me, it was their first time on the skates like me. They looked at my fear stricken face and clutched the ledge as tightly as me. I knew I was making them scared but seriously I was quite scared myself. My daughter came in the rink last. She had been ice skating once before with her friends and she was looking confident. She told me mama the worse that happens is that you fall down on your bum or on your knees. It won’t hurt a lot (since I wouldn’t be going fast). She had fallen down quite a few times the last time she came.
She got on the ice. She looked really funny with her small footsteps as she tried to keep her balance on ice and move forward. The boys looked at her and started to move on the ice. They immediately fell down and were up again. After that they fell numerous times and were up again and from small steps they started to glide.
For me I was still hanging on to ledge and standing near the door. I asked my husband to get me a support. He got me a plastic seal which I could hold on to and move by pushing it forward. Two steps and I was on the floor. A nice gentleman rushed to help me to my feet, which took some effort as I slipped again two times when I tried to get up. Skating really wasn’t for me. I struggled back to the door with another fall and took a (much-needed) seat on one of the benches beside the rink to rest my aching bum. I sat there looking out at the rink. I was quite upset and it didn’t help to see people including children skate without difficulty. I asked myself “why do they make it look so easy?” As I felt sorry for myself, I took some time to self talk.
I realized that much of what prevented me from beginning to ice skate was generally the same that prevented many of us from exploring new things in life. I thought about my past experiences and how life had unfolded for me. As I recap my thoughts I can put them down in the four points.
1. I don’t know how to do it and I could get hurt. I know I can take ice skating lessons but at this moment, ice skating is this murky, opaque place. It’s cold. There is the white glare. It’s fast. It hurts when I fall. And I have no idea how to balance myself or the technique that I am supposed to use to make this work. I have no clue how one can skate so straight on this little thin blade. I imagine that I can easily tear a muscle or break my wrist. it is thoughts like these that I have applied to trying anything new in my life, be it bringing up children, playing a sport, education or even a career change. In my life I haven’t done much except my current field of expertise because there were many things I didn’t know. What if I failed? Failing doesn’t hurt physically but it sure does hurt on an emotional level.
2. It’s difficult. Of course the people skating on the rink make it look so easy and effortless, but ice-skating is really hard. One needs to keep ones’ legs steady and keep balance, be able to squat, and be able to fall and get back up. It is not easy. Like anything, becoming proficient (not perfect) would take time, effort, discipline and dedication, even if I was just going to do it to enjoy time with my kids. The same principle goes for doing new things in life. Sure, one knows that there is a structured plan to do it and people have done it before but let’s be honest, it all looks so easy and possible for “them”, but not for us. I don’t think it’s easy. And I feel I am so far behind. And I often feel I just don’t have the skills to do it which in many instances is really not true.
3. It takes time. I know that to really learn how to ice skate I’m going to have to carve out the time. I’m already pretty busy, three kids, school, cooking and day dreaming. Where am I going to find the time to take lessons. Most of us don’t have time to even think of doing new things, much less exploring them and acting on them. We are bogged down with work (even housework which is tedious in the least). There are small things that require full attention. In the few hours when we are not actually working, we are thinking about work (even as we drop off to sleep) or trying to find time to exercise or see friends or family. Hence we often ask ourselves where will we find time to learn something new.
4. It’s different from my past experiences and skill sets. I don’t really understand ice-skating. As much as I like to imagine myself gliding across the ice gracefully I must add, ice-skating is a really new thing that I know nothing about. I don’t even have friends who ice skate. And the same goes for when we are doing anything new. We don’t really know the people who are doing it and hence cannot ask for much needed advice. There may be many options but we are not aware of them and we have no clue how it will span out later in life.
When have I done new things in past? I have only made a big (read: necessary) change, when one of these four factors compelled me to do it: I had no other choice, I was highly curious for adventure and change, I was desperate and/or under immense peer pressure.
So with ice skating, for me, I had no other choice – I either participated in the activity, or gave my children the impression that if something scared them they could quit right before even trying it out. And I’ll admit, I was kinda of curious about learning this new skill. So I put on a brace face and a not so confident smile and got out on the ice again.
I got thumbs up from my husband and my boys were so excited. Holding on to my seal I went around the rink, very slowly at first barely making any progress to going but too fast and falling really hard on the ice. I told myself that I must at least finished one complete round of the rink. As I move slowly I get some advice from a nice lady who wanted to help: “Keep your legs close. Now walk. Move your right leg. Move your left leg. Right. Left. Right. Left. Right. Left. Don’t stop! If you stop you will fall. You see, actually you skate on one leg while the other push you forward. That’s how you glide.”
I didn’t really manage to follow her advise. I was still scared especially of breaking a bone. But in clearly spelling out my fears and of knowing what I have to do, I was feeling more confident. I have decided to take private lessons and I will find time to fit them in my schedule. Yes, I am doing it. I don’t want to be a serious skater – but I’ll keep on learning until I’m able to fulfil my dream of feeling liberated as I glide alongside the rest, somewhat steadily if not gracefully, across the ice rink.
To sum up my experience I would say the key to enjoying life is not to eliminate one’s fears which most probably is not even possible but to confront them. As with everything else, practicing how to learn new things; how to deal with stumbling blocks, failures, uncertainty and the things we are not experts at, will keeps us going. We will definitely have fewer regrets!