“I’m an adult skater and frankly I’m terrified”
It sounds a bit like I should be in a therapy group but I am an “adult skater” – and while that technically means I’m over 18, more often than not that term means that you learnt to skate as an adult rather than a child.
Why is that important?
Well, because as adults we are much more aware of what can go wrong and boy it hurts a LOT more when we fall. If I break a wrist, I can’t work. I’m self employed and if I don’t work, I don’t get paid, so falling does scare me because of the wider implications.
If I fall and get bruised then it lasts for weeks rather than days and usually involves a trip to the chiropractor to get put back in line! (Honestly she just shakes her head at me on a regular basis)
I started skating almost by chance really. I’d spent many years watching my daughters lessons from the side, been involved in the synchro and skating club committees and never really thought about trying it myself until I made a throwaway comment to her coach about wanting to know how to skate backwards. That was all I’d ever wanted to do and he offered to give me a lesson.
Never one to say no to things, I took him up on the offer. Did I learn how to skate backwards in that lesson? No of course not. I had to learn how to skate forwards properly first (and get up off the ice when I fell)! So I had a few more lessons, and a few more …. and a few more. Before I knew it, I was having regular lessons and making (slow) progress through the Learn to Skate programme.
Since I’ve been skating, I’ve had a shoulder operation, post-op frozen shoulder and a dislocated pelvis as well as many many bruises, knocks and falls. The shoulder stuff wasn’t caused by skating as such but it has made me really nervous about falling because even now I don’t have full mobility in my left shoulder.
You’d also think that having competed in another sport (I used to dance competitively) that I’d be used to performing by now but I actually get extreme performance anxiety to the point where I’ve even tried hypnotherapy to try and help reduce it a bit.
So when I did my Pattern Dance 1 & 2 tests recently, its fair to say I was pretty terrified. My Field Moves 1 were actually ready before the PD’s but my coach made a decision to put me in for PD 1 & 2 so that he could be on the ice with me and get me and my nerves through a first test.
It’s a good job he did because pretty much everything that he’d taught me went out of the window as soon as they called my name. I forgot to bend my knees. I forgot some of the steps. I even forgot to take off my warm up jacket until I saw my daughter frantically signalling to me through the glass when I was stood in the middle of the ice ready to start. As I went back to put it on the barrier near the judge, I forgot how to stop and crashed into the barrier lol … it wasn’t the start I was looking for!
But, by some miracle, I passed though and here’s the evidence to prove it …
Almost immediately after I’d skated, I started thinking about all the things that hadn’t gone the way I’d wanted them too. I knew these dances inside out. I could do them on my own and in hold, I was confident about them in practice, I’d worked on my knee bend and listened to my hypnotherapy session in the car before I walked into the rink that morning. But all I could think about was that I’d messed up the steps and I hadn’t skated it as well as I knew I could just because of the fear I felt in the test environment.
I kept my passes pretty quiet, I didn’t tell anyone except immediate family/friends and my synchro team members. Then I got my certificates in the post and I thought about whether to share them on the Two Bird London Facebook page. I wasn’t going to but I’m always telling skaters to share their good news with everyone so that everyone can cheer them on.
I figured it was a bit rich for me to say that but then not do it myself! So I did and the love from the Two Birds family* was amazing. They were happy for me, proud of me, cheered me on, told me to keep going for my next level. It really buoyed me up.
Because here’s the thing. We’re all guilty of thinking the worst of ourselves and I’m no exception.
“I’m too old to be taken seriously”
“I’m too old to be skating”
“I’ll look silly doing my tests with the 8yo kids”
“I didn’t bend my knees”
“My skating is rubbish”
“I can’t do this”
….. they’re all thoughts that have gone through my mind more than once. But I don’t think that about anyone else so why should they think that about me? In fact when I see other adult skaters, I think “Good on you for getting out there instead of sitting on the sofa”.
Everyone has insecurities. Everyone worries. Everyone is scared (well almost everyone!). The question is, are you going to let that stop you doing whatever it is that you want to do? Will you look back when you’re 80 and think “oh I wish I hadn’t tried that skating / dancing / learning”? No! You’re going to think “I’m so glad I gave that a go while I had the opportunity and was still fit enough give it a go”.
Does the fear and terror go away? No probably not, but I work on a theory that if I keep myself busy enough then I don’t give that fear too much room to grow. If I let it grow, then it will take over and instead of going to the rink to practice, I’ll let it persuade me to sit on the sofa and tell myself that I’ll go tomorrow, or the next day or next week (ie never).
A favourite saying of mine is “If you want something badly enough, then get up and do something about it” and I really believe that you can do anything if you want it badly enough.
But it doesn’t come on a silver platter – you have to work hard for it, you have to be prepared to work through the times when you feel like giving up, the times when it hurts. And when you do, that’s when you get to the good stuff, the achievements, the test passes, the wins and the elation that you’ve achieved what you set out to achieve.
So here I am … feeling the fear (or in my case terror!) and doing it any way.
*Two Birds Family because our Facebook page is not all about us as a company – we cheer all skaters on through their achievements and struggles, we show them love and we believe they can do it. Not just us, but all our page followers. Love you guys!