Today is the 6th of January, 2016 and I have just returned to my hostel in Interlaken, Switzerland having just experienced a few days of surreal adventure.
For those of you who are unaware, I left for Europe on January 1st eager for a new adventure and uncertain as to what to expect. What has happened has been beyond my realm of comprehension. I’ve tried new food, heard new languages, and most importantly, made new friends. However, I’ve decided not to make this blog strictly about the traveling just yet—don’t worry, I have a feeling I’ll make a few of those as time goes on. For now, I’d like to talk about ice skating.
Yes, ice skating. When I was younger I was a good ice skater. I don’t mean figure skating Olympic prospect, but I could definitely hold my own on the ice rink and outskate anyone. I was a tough tomboy of a kid and nobody could tell me I couldn’t do something. If I decided I was going to race the fastest boy in our town, I was going to.
Two nights ago, for the first time in forever, I was given the opportunity to ice skate again. To ice skate. In Switzerland. So of course you say yes and of course you go and of course you give it your all…right?
I was on the rink for half a second when I realized I had no idea what I was doing.
It’s been years since I ice skated!
I slipped but caught myself. This couldn’t be good. Now this ice rink isn’t just an ice rink. It’s more of an ice maze with a traditional rounded square shape followed by paths that lead away and into greater and longer circles.
I began to skate – if you can even call it that – and quickly waved on my friends who clearly had their lives a little bit more together. I wavered and wobbled and gripped the icy edge through the entirety of my first lap. When I finished, my ungloved hand was red and I was starting to realize that maybe ice skating wasn’t like riding a bicycle…not all things that were once easy can come back to you so quickly.
I decided to go around a second time, still holding the wall and still being passed by eight year olds on either side. By the time I finished my second lap, it was almost obvious that I should cut my losses and enjoy looking at the lights or talking with my friends or literally anything except the thing I was terrible at.
But because I have to be introspective about everything, I tried to figure out what went wrong. What happened to the confident and capable ice skater I remembered?
I was watched the aforementioned eight year olds skating in and out of obstacles and cones, much like I had at their age, when I realized something.
They are good because they are fearless.
I took my hand off the wall.
They don’t care about falling because they’ll just stand back up.
I watched one of them wipe out and promptly start breakdancing on the ice from his seated position.
They don’t care if they look stupid because they’ll just recover and laugh it off.
I had my revelation. I was great when I was younger because I was completely unafraid.
I took off (admittedly, still fairly slowly). Nonetheless, I took off and made my way around the entirety of the maze without holding or even touching the ledge once…even when my eight-year-old companions sped by me, spitting up ice. Now I wasn’t great…or really even good. But I was learning. And that’s what mattered.
When we are young we believe in ourselves so fiercely and know that we can do anything we put our minds to. Let’s keep that alive as we continue to grow.
Signing off from Interlaken, Switzerland.