Often, I lament that people don’t have hobbies and passions anymore. It seems that everything has turned into a vehicle to make money, become some sort of influencer, or strengthens one’s career. I specifically looked for an activity that had no connection, whatsoever, to my professional life. I didn’t want to have to be image conscious at all. I didn’t want to care about how well or poorly I performed. I just wanted to focus on fun and friendship: everything that counts can’t necessarily be counted. So, I signed up for weekly skating lessons after a 30 year hiatus from the rink!
The first skating lesson was an absolute joy. I quickly realized that I still had it, and I was content to show off with my classmates! The instructor, after noticing that I had no problems with balance and simple manuvers, promptly kicked me out of the beginners class! I was given two options: go to the intermediate class right away or join that group starting with the next class. I protested! I wanted to stay with the beginner group because I wanted to get my confidence up, way up. Interestingly, the instructor said, “No, you’re intimidating the true beginners. You’re staying here because you’re too scared to skate with the folks whose skills will challenge you.” Ouch! But he wasn’t wrong.
The second skating lesson, with the intermediate class, was filled with about 15 other over 30 skaters. During the class, I was completely star struck: the teacher’s assistant was a 7-year-old girl named Jade. As I was struggling to get a transition right (a move where you change direction without losing speed), she came up to me, “You’re doing it wrong. If you do it like that, you’re going to fall. Let me show you. Watch me!” I marveled and thought, “I hope she never loses this level of confidence. She is destined to be a professional powerhouse.” I couldn’t believe she was so comfortable critiquing adults and such an accomplished skater. As she navigates the world, I hope she doesn’t believe those people who will tell her that she’s bossy, bitchy, domineering, or doesn’t know her place because she knows her stuff and dares to say something to people’s whose skills are supposed to better than hers.
My most recent class, class three, was the most challenging. As we struggled to catch a particular move, I watched a woman I’d chatted up while I changed into my skates. She said that she wasn’t taking any particular class. She wanted to focus on getting her confidence up. She wasn’t ready for the intermediate class, but beyond the beginners. And she said, “I’m not ashamed to use one of those”, referring the skating aids that ONLY THE KIDS USED (here’s a video of the her and the skating aid)
She said that she’d join my class when she felt ready. With that, I headed to my group, and she took off. Mind you, at the same time, the guy with the $600 skates, who fell (HARD) in last week’s class fell again as soon as he stepped onto the rink and class hadn’t even started!
Throughout the class, the woman with the skating aid zoomed by us as we were doing all sorts of wobbles to avoid falling (thank goodness for wrist guards). I’ve yet to see any other adult use the skating aid although we all talk about how terrifying it is to consider breaking a wrist (apparently, wrist fractures are the most common injury among “mature” skaters). I bet she isn’t the only adult who needs help and more time to stay upright.
I thought about how often professional spaces are filled with people who won’t do what they need to do to develop the skills they needs, confidence, or gain what it takes to be effective. In turn, they keep falling and risking fractures. These people sometimes attack the Jades of the world because they believe their position or age means they should be the leader rather than the person who is most capable. And then there are those people who need to be pushed so that they don’t cheat themselves out of fear.
Class four is this weekend… Meanwhile, are you willing to do what you need to do to build your confidence, even if you feel silly, alone, afraid, or “out there by yourself”?