I went snowboarding for the first time last year. I went with my then fiancé (now husband) to Vermont, which was a 6-8 hour drive (past 4 hours who can even keep track?).
The truth? I am not really a “winter girl.”
By that I mean I have always disliked the snow, the slush, the cold. The one thing I really enjoy about winter is the excuse to curl under an oversized blanket, drink a warm cup of tea after getting a hot bath, and watch shitty television. Then I met a tattooed thrill seeker who has been snowboarding for 20 years of his life and is obsessed with the feeling of flying down a mountain.
I was promised a cute outfit which I got. Obviously, I knew it was more than just an outfit, but nothing could have prepared me for how I would feel. Anyone who knows me knows, you give me a rule and I will follow it to a “T.” I enjoy order, control, predictability, etc. and will do anything in my power to achieve it. I felt confident that I could conquer snowboarding because I enjoy trying new things. Little did I know how wrong I was.
I got up the stupid lift. I got on it, and got off it asking a million questions about logistics. I wobbled to the side of the mountain and looked down and suddenly froze.
My brain told my body to go and it wouldn’t.
I have never in my life had this reaction before. I have been in scary situations before; situations that could possibly be seen as life-threatening.
I mean, hell, I drive on I-76 every day! What was happening to me? I realized that I was terrified and sat down and said, “I can’t do it,” as tears streamed down my face. I can’t do it. I was out of control. Why can’t snowboards have breaks on them?!?!
Now, I am sitting in a beautiful hotel in Colorado staring at a mountain. My husband mustered up all the patience he has and took me on the side of a little trail so I could try it again. He said something to me that I never even realized.
As I strapped in my boots to the board I said out loud, “I am scared because there is no break. I feel like I will be out of control.” He looked at me and said, “Kel, you are in control the whole time. You think you are not, but you are.” Suddenly, I realized it was my mind that was stopping me. It was fear that was stopping me. So what if I fall? Well….I don’t want to break a bone and there is something to be said for being an adult and knowing what the cost of a broken knee, ankle, wrist, etc. would mean. The reality is that I will fall. I will fall on my butt, my face, probably every direction. But once I do that, I know myself and I will get back up. It is simply going. I have to just go and wing it.
Sitting in this lobby, sipping a cool glass of sauvignon blanc, watching three year olds dominate the bunny slope I realized a paradox of life. Being scared of things means you are scared to let go. Letting go means being scared but also means accomplishing something. They all go hand in hand.
I have accomplished so much in my life and I am only 29. I am incredibly proud of the goals I set for myself and my ability to achieve them. Did the feeling of being scared stop me from applying to grad school? No. Did the feeling of being scared stop me from doing an internship, classes, AND full time work stop me? No.
Why didn’t I think twice about those things?
It did not even cross my mind that I could not accomplish them.
That’s weird isn’t it? It is weird that I have an ability to see past the initial slope to see the end result in situations other than a mountain. I am realizing this ability as I type the words on this page. I have the ability, but I let things stop me. Not this trip. I will learn to let go to allow myself to have a little fun.