I first started roller skating this past summer at one of the lowest points in my life.
I was extremely sad: I had become overwhelmed with years of undiagnosed anxiety, my situationship was no longer situated, the school year had ended early and the world seemed to generally be on fire. In my sadness and fear I had lost so much of myself. I would stare into my mirror for what felt like hours to see if there was anything in this sad, apathetic girl that I could recognize anymore. Usually, there didn’t seem to be much.
I had been obsessed with roller skating since high school, and while I sat around my house in my quarantine funk, I would see videos of girls roller skating. They wore crochet tops and flared jeans and they looked free; they looked effortlessly comfortable and bursting with confidence. And for me, who found life recently required an abundance of effort and discomfort, found a need to skate. To be one of those skater girls who skated to Fleetwood Mac and seemed to live in a perpetual golden hour.
So, I queued up “Dreams” and went on Amazon to buy skates.
I found that skating is a lot like life.
It’s incredibly easy when you’re on smooth surfaces: freshly poured concrete, basketball courts or roller rinks. You skate on these smooth surfaces and you feel incredible. You think there’s no way you’re ever going to fall again; you think, why am I even wearing a helmet? And you look down at your feet and think: I’ve really got a hang of this whole skating thing.
And it goes like that for a while, at least until you inevitably run into a bumpy road. Everything you thought you knew about roller-skating goes out the window. You forget how to balance, how to move your feet, how to hold your body. Instead, you flail. You hit the brakes and slowly attempt to roll over every little crack, every bump, every rock.
This is actually the opposite of what you should do and technique-wise, the most dangerous way to skate over bumpy surfaces.
I find that in my life when things are good, I seem to forget that there is any bad anywhere. I feel invincible; I think, why was I ever sad? Why was I ever nervous? I’m skating on smooth surfaces and I forget that cracks exist.
Then life does what it does best, and it hits you. Not always hard, not always in an irrevocably damaging way, but sometimes it’s just a couple of bumps. And instead of skating through them, instead of remembering your stance, remembering to balance, remembering to pull your feet together, you slowly and painfully focus on every bump of heartache, every sidewalk crack of loneliness. And you fall.
So, what to do when the next bump comes up?
The proper technique is to actually pick-up speed. The faster you go over a bump, the less you feel it. The less it affects you. The smaller your chance of falling is. In fact, the chance is around zero. It feels scary, usually working through hard times is, but, that discomfort—the pain of moving on, the fear of change—is actually just personal growth. And the more you go through those bumps, the more you gain the courage to speed up and skate over them, the less you feel them.
Skating helped me to get through my saddest, scariest days. The days I felt incapable of being a functioning human, at the very least I was capable of skating. I find now, that while I love skating through smooth concrete, the bumps don’t make those times any less enjoyable. They actually help me appreciate the smooth because without bumps, we really wouldn’t know what it is to be free, to be happy.
So, if you feel stuck in a rut, forever treading on rough roads, I recommend finding a crochet top and putting on some flared jeans. There’s a good chance you’ll learn more than just how to skate.