You are allowed to take a break but you are not allowed to give up.
I would never believe that learning snowboarding is going to be one of the most important life lessons for me. But it happened so.
When a friend of mine offered to spend a few days at the ski resort I was over the moon. It was going to be my first proper snowboarding experience. Obviously his first question was if I’m confident enough on the board. So to make it happen I had to lie. No don’t get me wrong I did try it couple of times before. But it was only for a few hours and with no one telling me how to deal with this board. But I knew I am a fast learner and I pick up any sport pretty easily since my childhood so I truly believed it won’t be a big deal this time as well. So let’s say I told him half-truth. “Well I’m still a beginner but you know I’m not bad at all. I can manage to stay on the board without falling over all the time”. Which in fact wasn’t even close to be truth and it took us both literally 5 minutes to find it out.
Once we strapped our boards and got to the slope for the first time I swear to God my knees were shaking. Couple of minutes after I found myself in the queue to the T-bar drag lift. And I clearly remembered that the last time I’ve tried it it didn’t work well. To be completely honest it didn’t work at all. It only looks easy at all those Youtube tutorials. Forget about it. It took me 5 meters to fall over and to almost kill us both. After the third try a friend of mine has sent me to a “looser’s tree”. It was the place where all the very beginners were hanging out. The minimum angle of the slope and walkable distance so no lift needed.
I have tried it several times. I was kind of better than the worst loosers but I was still a pretty bad looser myself. And I hated it. I hate to lose. In my childhood I was one of those kids who were restarting the race playing Need for Speed once I was behind someone instead of keep trying to win. I always had to be the best. I know. I do know how stupid it is. Without making mistakes there is no way to learn something new. But that’s me. Can’t help it.
Some time later my friend found me sitting under that tree being all grumpy. I wanted to be like all those cool people but couldn’t do literally anything. The board was totally controlling me. I was going wherever it was taking me and it was supposed to be all the way around. I was so bad that whenever I saw people on my way I had to fall down in order to not hurt them and myself because I had no idea how to overcome them. I mean I did have but it just didn’t work and it was pissing me off a lot. So by the time he found me there I looked like that grumpy cat from the memes.
He smiled. “Come”, — he said.
- Let’s go to a proper ski run.
- I’ll kill myself there.
- You won’t get anywhere until you start trying. I do fall sometimes too. Still. Even though I consider my snowboarding skills as intermediate level. By falling you learn.
That was a voice of wisdom. I swallowed my pride and followed him. The run was definitely not for the beginners. But that was the only one run around where they had a chair lift instead of drag lift. Looking back I don’t see any logic behind it but let it be. Once we got to the top of the hill my friend briefly explained me the basics. Thumbs up. He hasn’t got angry a single time and has never left me alone even though I assume it was pretty boring for him as he was pretty good at snowboarding.
And here I faced the fear. The technique is basically very simple. You lean forward, put your weight on the front leg and then just go left or right depending on the situation. But. According to the physics the more weight and pressure you put on the object on the declining surface the higher speed it will pick up on the way down. My tailbone still remembered what happens when the high speed applies while the board is still controlling you. I wasn’t able to walk for a few days after it happened for the last time. Hence I was scared. So whenever I felt I’m going too fast I was still choosing to fall down instead of risking to break something in my body. I was kind of trying to secure myself by falling not too bad right now instead of most likely falling really bad in a few moments. Most likely. Are you getting it? Maybe I would not have fallen. But my fear was so big that was choosing to not even try every single time.
Stop being scared!
Easy to say but not easy to do. I was fighting this battle for another 3 hours. In fact I was doing the very same mistake every single time. Choosing to fall “safely” now instead of falling badly after.
The next morning I told myself: “You gonna do it! No matter what!” And I was still scared. But I was full of determination and it was slowly getting better. I felt that sometimes I’m in control of the board and it actually goes where I want it to go. It started to take less time to get back on the track after falling. Yes I was still falling a lot but if yesterday after that I was rolling over like a panda bear, today after each fall I was jumping back on the board right away. And I kept on trying over and over again. When I felt I can’t move a single part of my body anymore I was going back to the hotel for a cup of tea. And after a while I was getting back on the slope. No excuses if you want to achieve something. I went to bed pretty satisfied that day but yet not happy. And I could feel every single muscle my body has. Wasn’t even sure how to get up the next morning.
Day 3 kicked in with the storm. Yesterday’s sunny beautiful landscapes turned into a grey and foggy silent hill. At some point I have lost my friend somewhere on the slope. I’ve been left all alone for the first time. I was scared. What if something happens and he is not there. What if I do something wrong or hurt myself. But eventually I had to shut my mind up and to take a lift to the top alone. Only once. I was still scared. The next couple of hours I have spent trying to find him.
By the midday we bumped into a group of friends. After a while everyone decided to grab some food and couple of drinks. I never said it out loud but I felt so bad about it. I didn’t want to lose time. I needed to practice. The left turn, the toes side back sliding and I wanted to get closer to carving. I had so much to do! But it would have been rude to leave the group. So I waited impatiently secretly practicing the curves in my mind. Finally everyone decided to go to the Red run. Huh. Yeah why not. I’ve been there yesterday anyway without even realizing it’s Red. All guys took a drag lift to get there. We were a team of loosers. Another girl and me. “I have tried it yesterday so many times and kept on falling, — she said, — “I will never try it again”. “I failed pretty bad as well yesterday. But I will do it before we have to leave. I have to”, — I said. That’s the spirit.
Either way we had to walk all the way. Wearing a snowboard boots, tons of clothes and of course carrying a snowboard itself. Uphill. I hated myself every single step of that walk watching other people smiling on the drag lift. I will do it. I will. Just watch me. Sometimes it’s even better when someone says you can’t.
Once the whole crew got there I told my friend-slash-personal instructor that this time I will not fall a single time. I decided so. The weather was getting worse. We could hardly see where we were going. But I did it. For the first time in my life I did not fall down a single time. Being on the Red run. Just saying. You are probably going to think that I was really slow and careful. Not at all. I was practicing all the tricks he showed me before and yet I was able to keep the balance. That was a moment of glory. And a lesson. To never think you are good enough. The next time I took this run just 10 min after I fell over so bad that I was scared to even stand up and checking if I’m not broken. I got overconfident. Went too fast. Lost control for a few seconds. Freaked out. And here I am rolling down with the board over my head. But I was not scared anymore. I won.
Next day the weather got even worse. The storm was really bad. Killing cold wind, snowflakes that turned into the tiny needles, literally zero visibility. I couldn’t even see ski lifts from our window anymore and they were just hundred meters away. My friend didn’t seem to be too excited to get out of the bed and get there plus he overslept breakfast.
“I’m going to do it anyway. I’m going to go and practice right now. Drag lift, remember? I only have a day and a half left”.
He looked at me like I’m crazy and promised to join after the lunch. I went to the looser’s tree. Intentionally. I had to practice going down the hill with only one foot strapped. Otherwise the drag lift would never work. Normal people practice it in the beginning before even trying snowboarding. But I never claimed to be normal. I didn’t care anymore about anyone around. I was focused on what I personally need to achieve. On what my personal goal is. It didn’t matter if there was someone better or worse than me. I had to do what I wanted to do. That’s it. As simple as that. And I was practicing there alone until I made sure that I can easily do it.
Once my friend joined me we went to the Red run again. And watching me sliding across the hill on my heels side he was like: “Wow! You got so much better within this couple of days!”. I got so happy because of this unexpected compliment that lost control and fell down instantly.
We were going up and down. The weather was getting worse and worse. The storm warning was announced shortly. 5 people went missing. “Just one more time, just one more time please”, — I was begging him every single time saying that this one is going to be the last for today for sure. I couldn’t get enough. The better I was getting the more I wanted to practice. I would have gone even alone. I was hype. We stayed until the ski lifts got closed because of the weather. It was getting too dangerous. I can’t even describe how bad the weather was. There were not many people left. Everyone chose to stay in a cozy warm hotel room instead. But not me. I didn’t care. I was happy. I totally loved the moment.
The last day. I only had half of the day as we were leaving by afternoon. I set up alarm for 7am. And woke up to a completely white window. I couldn’t see anything further than couple of meters. The weather was even worse than yesterday despite the weather forecast saying that it was going to be sunny. “Don’t even hope I won’t give up that easily”, — I said looking to the direction where I knew the drag lift was behind all the mist. My friend woke up to me starring at the window with a Puss in boots eyes. “Don’t even ask me, — I said, — I’ll go there anyway you know it”. He refused to get out of the bed at all.
And here I am. We are. Drag lift and me. The weather is so bad that they closed almost all the ski runs leaving only the safest one open and only 2 drag lifts. I actually didn’t have a choice. Once I got there my knees were shaking so bad that I was wondering how am I going to keep the balance. It took me around 20 meters this time to fall down. I was not going to give up. The second try took me about 50 meters. I was not going to give up. Once I got back to the beginning the service guy smiled and said: “Doesn’t really work for you, right?” “Watch me”, — I said. And guess what. I did it. I did. It was like opening a new level in the video game. My knees were shaking all the way to the top. My face was aching because of the strong wind with ice. All my clothes were soaking wet. But I was happy as a kid with the smile all over my face. I swear no one else that day was smiling that wide there. I waved hello to our hotel passing it and thinking that my friend might be watching me from the window of our room.
Once I got to the top I was so overwhelmed that I was risking to explode. That day I have spent on the slope all time until we had to leave. Taking the drag lift again and again. Until I fell down and couldn’t stand up anymore because I was too exhausted. But happy. I ran into our room jumping and screaming that I did it. He was proud of me too. “That’s what I like in you. You never give up”.
And this is what I have realized that day.
You can’t be profi at everything. We all have to start somewhere. And you have start right there where you are. Either it’s a new profession, new language, new country, new relationship or whatever else on earth. Everyone has started somewhere. No one was born a professional and there is nothing embarrassing at being not good enough as long as you are able to learn. The fear is going to be your worst enemy. The fear of failing. But you have to conquer it. It is very important to have people to help you and support. They will make it easier. But there is only you and yourself to fight this fear. It is very important to start trying even if you still have the fear. Fight it and move. Keep moving and keep fighting. You will succeed eventually without even realizing it. Sometimes the circumstances won’t be good to you. The weather will be bad. Everyone around you will seem to be better than you. You will get angry at yourself for being not good enough. There will be moments when you gonna think that you are a totally looser. But. Make sure to keep fighting when no one else around is willing to fight anymore. When everyone else gave up. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Take breaks when needed. But don’t you dare to give up. Be right back on the track after every break.
Yes you are going to fall. You are going to keep falling for quite a while. Sometimes you will fall really bad. It will hurt. It will hurt a lot. But. The most important part is: it doesn’t matter how many times you fall, the only thing that matters is how many times you stand up and move forward again.
You can do it.