I went to a skating rink today to do some observations for a class that I’m in. The assignment was to go watch some learning take place. My little team of three chose to watch ice skaters. After we observed for a while we rented skates and jumped in on the free skating session. It was pretty fun, even if the rented skates were cruddy and the ice was horrible.
I haven’t been on ice skates in about ten years. I used to ice skate once or twice a week, starting at around 4 years old. There was a pond in our neighbor’s backyard, but we also had classes at the University ice skating rink. My dad, brother and I all did it together. Eventually classes became private lessons with a coach, which became performing. Which was awful.
I was a shy kid, extremely self-conscious with low self-esteem. When my mom finally let my hair grow longer than the bowl cut I sported for the first 6 years of my life I generally wore it draped over my face so I could feel more invisible. So ice skating was not a very good match for me. During practice sessions I was afraid to practice because I didn’t want people to see how bad I was. Which meant I never improved very much. My parents had always taught me to strive to be the best, but never stressed what had to be done to become the best. I always just thought you just were. And if you weren’t the best, then you tried to hide it. Or you quit.
Anyway, I really liked the athleticism of ice skating, and the momentum and the precision. I skated freestyle for a while, then switched to dance. That happened partially because my dad was switching to dance and I was really skating because he wanted me to. The other reason I switched to dance was because I was not getting better. I couldn’t land jumps because I was afraid to try and fail. Practicing dance patterns was much less conspicuous, and making mistakes while practicing was much less noticeable.
Eventually I stopped going with my dad. I did not enjoy it, I wasn’t getting better, and I hated that in order to be a skater you have to be a spectacle. You have to pick your head up and wave your arms around and smile. You wear tight outfits and short skirts and pretend you’re having a fabulous time. You have to be feminine and graceful and rhythmic and happy. I was shy and awkward and a tomboy who did not want to be noticed by anyone and afraid to make mistakes.
In a way I’m still that kid. Afraid to show weakness, too self-conscious to enjoy life a lot of the time. I don’t know how to get over that. Maybe that should be my resolution for the year, to work on it.