This past year I did something I never imaginedI’d do: I bought a skateboard and began to learn how to skate at skateparks. Growing up, I was a skier and loved action sports, particularly the ones that involved adrenaline. However, by the age of twenty-five, I was settled into my normal patterns and the things I knew: biking, running, skiing, hiking. When I first started pushing around the park on a borrowed board, I never imagined it would be my new addiction—something I’d do nearly every day for hours. The concept of possibly falling on concrete seemed too scary as an adult. The people at the skate park flying around the bowl and grinding on rails seemed way out of my league as I putzed around the periphery, watching in awe.
But life is unpredictable, and so is falling in love. I didn’t think I’d stick to something so challenging or intimidating, but skating has become—at the risk of sounding cliché— a true love and joy in my life. Beyond this mushy stuff, however, I’ve discovered real value in diving into something totally out of my comfort zone as an adult. With this in mind, I came up with a short list of reasons why I stand by the principle that everyone should be a beginner as an adult:
1. Being a beginner is humbling: As we grow up we get into patterns and sometimes these patterns seem to consume us. Being a professional copywriter, I have developed a certain degree of confidence in my personal and professional writing. The same goes with other sports or hobbies, such as skiing, which I have done all my life. But watching children who are eight years old dropping into bigger ramps than I will dare to reminds me that I have so much to learn, and that the key to being a beginner is not taking myself too seriously. In my personal life, this approach to being a beginner has translated into being more emotionally vulnerable, being willing to learn and evolve without trying to safeguard my pride. This beginner mindset has translated into my work as a writer, where I am more willing to try new forms of writing, from articles to essays to poetry.
2. Learning how to fall and get back up: Eating Sh*** as an adult is something everyone should do, and I stand by this. Obviously, smacking down on concrete is horrible. As I sit here and write this, my tailbone hurts from a fall yesterday. But that fall happened because I was trying to get more speed skating the bowl. With anything in life, it’s virtually impossible to progress without failing once or twice. Same goes for work, where thinking outside the box and innovating more creative ways of doing business can initially lead down fruitless paths. Ultimately, though, it is learning from these errors and being resilient that leads to true creativity and a new level of performance.
3. Creating new communities: I’ve met so many incredible new friends through skating. The Salt Lake women’s skate community is immensely supportive. The first night I got my board, I skated around Fairmont Park, extremely nervous, barely able to skate down a tiny ramp. Three girls came up and showed me how to bend my legs and pump through the transition. I still skate with these ladies today, and I look up to them for their confidence, unique personal styles, and their spirit of inclusivity.
As I said, it’s cliché and I laugh wholeheartedly at the overzealous, skateboard-addicted child within me, but it’s changed my life, and that is a rare thing to find. I encourage any adult, no matter their age, to try something new; to embrace the unexpected and see what you learn, who you meet, and how taking a risk enriches your life.