A lot more than just balancing on 8 wheels
Throughout high school, I kept busy by participating in my school’s show choir and taking dance classes… but all of that ended the moment I started university. At first, having a bit more time for myself made me happy, but I quickly realized that not having any extra-curricular activities was having a huge impact on both my mental and physical health. Since so many activities finished after high school, I almost felt like it was too late to pick up something new. Having to reckon with this (probably very common, yet inaccurate) feeling, on top of Covid-19 forcing gyms and other activity hubs to shut down, made the prospect of starting something new even more impossible. Then, during a session of mindless scrolling, I came across Zelina (@zelinaonwheels) on Instagram, a 23-year old nursing student (now a university graduate!) who spent her free time park and jam skating. I was drawn in not only by Zelina’s brightly coloured outfits and skates, but by her dance skate videos, where she seemed to just radiate pure happiness. Watching her, I knew that was something I wanted to experience as well.
After watching Zelina’s videos, I discovered many others in the skate community and grew completely obsessed. Many skaters share progress videos or participate in the Moxi #365day skate challenge, and by scrolling down their profiles I was able to see how they improved, which truly inspired me. From the flawlessness of their skating, it was astonishing to think that some of these skaters were also once “baby deers” on skates.
Even though social media platforms often get the reputation of not being a portrayal of “real” life, I’ve noticed that people in the skate community are actively trying to challenge this by sharing their polished skating as well as the less polished falls. Content creators in the community oftentimes use popular audio tracks like “Thanks for checking in—*falls*—I’m still a piece of garbage.” These videos manage to convey a sense of humor and reality amidst the seemingly impeccable videos, and also remind me that at the end of the day, we all skate because we have fun! Needless to say that I was so inspired by all this and now convinced that skating was actually something I could learn, that I bought my own pair of skates. Seeing other skaters share their falls helped me to overcome that “beginner” fear and made it okay for me to fall and maybe look silly, as long as I got back up (and laughed it off!).
When I was younger, I took figure skating lessons, and I remember the frustration I felt when my coach threatened to put me down a level if I didn’t get this one spin; roller skating allowed me to reconnect with this inner child who just wanted to be free to skate! Roller skating gave me agency, since it’s a hobby that’s truly mine. I can choose when, where, and what to practice. I know this experience has definitely helped me to build a kind of self-confidence I was lacking. Still, I’d love to attend more skating events in person, as it is great to be surrounded by other people who just want to share the joy of skating.
Bottom line, learning how to roller skate has made me realize that there is no limit to what I can learn, that I can be patient with myself and improve. In episode 5 of the roller skate podcast Skate Sundae, skater Idalis joins at the end to share a skating tip; she says, and I quote, “Just because you had that little bit of courage for doing it, that makes you a winner, that makes you a freaking bad b*tch.” Even though she is talking about landing skate tricks, her advice is something that applies to other areas in life I am struggling to feel confident in, such as driving.
Long story short, learning how to roller skate helped me dispel the myth that I needed to have everything figured out by now, and I am truly grateful to the skating community for bringing it into my life.