Today we're getting a little personal on the blog in the interests of growth and self reflection. Yes folks I went snowboarding... well sort of. I know exactly why snowboarding is scary for me. Because my past is filled with traumatic skiing incidences and I thought maybe snowboarding would even the score. You never know I may be a natural. You know how you slowly develop a terrible phobia without realizing it? Then you spend several years avoiding it and forget you have it?
When I was a kid I was in ski club. I don't really remember why. I enjoyed it at first. When you stick to the green hills you start to develop an undeserved sense of self confidence and self promote yourself when you really shouldn't have. The experience was punctuated with many falls. And when you're on skis its not necessarily that easy to get back up without taking the skis off. So ultimately you're left stranded and alone sitting on a blue hill until a kind stranger comes to help you up. Then once they ski off you fall again and sit in your own tears of misery until your brother finally shows up and can take your skis to the bottom of the hill just so you can spend time walking down.
My mom used to take me, my brother and sister skiing during the winter. I never got any good at it. Turning was never my forte so I would end up barrelling down the hill and then collapsing once I got to the bottom. Don't ask me how this happened but when you accidentally end up on the moguls it doesn't end well. In case you haven't learned yet I am not athletic, coordinated or very good with knowing where I am.
I went skiing again in high school with my church's youth group. By then I had still apparently not learned my lesson. If any of you have ever been to Blue Mountain you will know that the training hill is barely a hill and then the next step up is a death trap. I swear! But when you're with your friends you get convinced to explore and then you end up on a hill way too steep for your comfort and have to again spend time inching your way to the bottom. Then you find yourself on the complete other end of the Mountain and have to hitch a ride with the shuttle to get back to the bus. I think it may have been that instance that solidified my aversion. I didn't go skiing again till this year! It's handy to have an excuse such as not owning snow pants.
Snowboarding I thought was the key. Skiing didn't work out so I'll try snowboarding. It can't be any worse.
Here I am, just contemplating my entire existence.
When you spend years avoiding something you forget how it makes you feel. Or you misremember or misinterpret. I thought I just didn't like skiing but I was wrong. It wasn't the skis fault. I had enjoyed it while I was standing and in control. I discovered I had a pretty severe phobia of steep slopes or more specifically being out of control on steep slopes. Heights had never been the problem, more the thought of careening off the edge, falling, not being able to slow down, being alone and stuck, crashing into some poor bystander. I strapped on the snowboard and suddenly my life flashed before my eyes. What was I thinking? I couldn't even ride my bike down steep hills as a kid without death gripping on the brakes. And in case you've never been snowboarding there is no legitimate way to slow yourself down (and literally no way to get up once fallen). I couldn't do it. I couldn't even at all. My entire body froze. There would have been no getting me down that hill.
But here is the funny thing about life. It doesn't really care if you're afraid. Why should it? Everyone else keeps on living despite the fact you've been traumatized. I didn't want to be the girl telling her friends that 'trust me you do not want to go skiing with me!' This would not do, I won't miss out on any more fun trips. I would have to conquer this. (Just not on a snowboard). So there I was the very next week standing at the top of the same hill with a pair of skis strapped to my feet. Staying on the easy hills I managed to stay on my feet the whole time. I even went again to Mt St Louis where I learned that fear doesn't go away overnight, but that's okay. This is not a story about how I conquered my fear and flew down those hills confidently. I may never get over this phobia I have. I may never be able to advance past the tamer hills. I may never be able to inch to the edge of a blue hill without hyperventilating. Maybe everyone else's mole hills will remain my mountains. Sometimes I may have to turn around and walk back to the easier hill, but that won't ever hold me back. That won't ever stop me from trying again. This doesn't mean you should force yourself to do things you hate. But just that you shouldn't hold yourself back from something you may enjoy because fear gets in your way. I will keep inching down those hills through my own tears because I don't have to be great at everything. But I won't let my fears control me.