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On skiing and trying things for the first time

  • Life

I’m generally risk-averse, I learned about myself a long time ago. I’m overly cautious, frenetically anxious, and incessantly worry about the unknowns. (Which, yes, is an issue in itself, and something I’m trying to manage, to varying degrees of success.)

Yet, in the last week, I found myself strapping into boots and skis that made my body cry in agony. I fell no less than half a dozen times on the first day. And the second, and the third. I wished I didn’t have that much churning in my amygdala, as I chanted “oh no, oh no, oh no”, both in my head and aloud as I skidded, stumbled, and skittered across an icy landscape so unfamiliar to me.

In contrast, my nephews — who turned six today! — took to the sport so naturally, unfazed by falls and bumps. And it wasn’t like they had a lot of practice before this vacation either; just perhaps a combined five days of skiing ever in their lives as of yet. I envy the fearlessness, and the ability to embrace learning something new and making themselves better.

The fun scale

There is this concept about different kinds of fun, defined as:

  • Type I: Enjoyable while it is happening
  • Type II: Enjoyable in retrospect
  • Type III: Not enjoyable at all

I’m a few days removed from burning up under my layers in the freezing weather (a really interesting dichotomy I had never experienced before). My wide feet ached, my thick shins hurt (partly because of my rookie mistake of wearing my base layer under my socks), and I reeked of cigarette smoke because my instructor was smoking at a rate of a pack per hour, not helped by the fact that he had to wait patiently for me.

Day one —

Him: You won’t fall.

Me, with skis shifting under my weight and not being able to do anything about them: I’m SLIDING!

Him, laughing: Yes, you are on ice.

Me: falls

Spoiler: I really enjoyed myself.

If Day 1 was me terrified and obstructed by my mental barriers, Day 2 would be about turning my disbelief into confidence. At the start of the day, I was still scared of everything — sliding on the snow, going onto the magic carpet, hanging on to dear life on a rope tow, and then falling while going up on a surface lift.

I wouldn’t say something clicked, but I’d even managed to steer myself by imitating the instructor in front of me, who did very leisurely turns very slowly for my benefit. In 6 total hours by the end of the second day, I was much, much more in control, and that definitely built my confidence.

I’m really proud of myself. I’m proud of embracing the learning of something new, and for not succumbing to my anxiety and managing to push through. I hadn’t realized it explicitly before then, but I hadn’t felt like I was trying something new for the first time in a very long time. (I guess the GMAT attempt didn’t count in my head!)

+ random observations

  • The incredible mountain views did some healing on my ruined city psyche. We’ll see how long this high lasts as I slide back, unfortunately not onto the snow, but work instead
  • I want to continue to strengthen myself: I know what my limiting factors are (broken back, weak core, and weirdly-shaped feet), so I might start doing specific workouts to focus on movements that would aid in my next skiing experience
  • Direction is more important than speed, but to shift, you still need some speed. How’s that for inspiration?

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