From Hater to Skater

Giving skating another try and getting over the fear of falling


I remember walking down the boardwalk in Santa Monica with my family when I was younger. The sun was setting and there was a nice breeze going through the air. As we were chatting, I saw two women on these wheels gliding past us with what looked like little to no effort; they looked so cool and confident. I asked my mom what they were using, and this was the first time I had ever heard about skates.

Ever since that moment, I have always wanted to learn how to skate. It has always seemed like one of the coolest things on Earth to me. There are certain vibes it gives off, and I have always wanted to be a part of that.

My mom didn’t want to enroll me in any classes because I had a serious habit of never completing anything I started, which she was right about but I still resented her for that in the moment.

One day when I was in elementary school, my friend Julie told me she and her older sister were going to Skate Express for a birthday party and she invited me to go. I was so excited I would finally get my shot at skating.

When we finally got to the party, I noticed everyone there seemed to be having no trouble skating at all. This made me nervous since it was my first time, but it was also Julie’s first-time skating so I felt less insecure.

As I put on my rental skates and stood up, I was immediately terrified. The carpet had some grip to it, but my skates moved so easily that I ended up falling right away. I laughed it off, thinking that was bound to happen if I wanted to skate. I tried to skate my way to the rink which was less than six feet away, but I kept slipping. It would seem that skating wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be.

Julie, on the other hand, stood up and already had proper form. She was able to make it to the rink no problem. She waited for me but I told her I’d make my way there eventually and to go on without me. I was studying everyone else’s movements and trying to copy them as I sat down. They all looked like they were just gliding side to side. I was so confused as to why I couldn’t do it.

I stood up and began moving my feet again only to fall, but this time hard. I fell on my bottom and boy did that shit hurt. I can still feel the pain to this day. I was so embarrassed that people had seen me. I remember a worker coming to help me up because I was too far from the bench to lift myself back up.

I sat back down on the bench and just decided to be in a bad mood. I was jealous that everyone there was able to do something I desperately wanted to be good at, and, as my mom predicted, I gave up.

Since then, I tried skating once more with my mom’s ex-husband teaching me on roller blades, but that lasted less than a day. To me, those were a lot harder and I had way more trouble trying to find my balance. It was hard for me to try to accept that I never have been a sporty person and maybe roller skating wasn’t for me.

Since quarantine began, I’ve been trying to find something that I can do that will occupy my mind. I have a few things I like to do, but I wanted something new. I was scrolling through Twitter when I came across a video of a woman skating down the boardwalk looking carefree and elated. I felt the same feeling I had when I was younger and I decided I was going to pick up skating again.

Unfortunately, the roller rinks are closed so it wasn’t going to be easy teaching myself in my enclosed house or on the rough asphalt outside. I was still determined, however. I did my research into skating and found that there’s a lot that goes into buying a pair of skates. I eventually found the best skates for me, ones that would be suitable both indoors and outdoors. I ordered them and felt the excitement spread throughout my body.

As the days passed before I got my skates I was anxious that my pattern of giving up and not trying would follow me. It was a bad habit I’ve had since I was younger. Even my sister didn’t think I was going to stick with it and I just wasted a large amount of money. I tried to shrug it off but the thought was still in the back of my head.

My skates arrived at night and I was so excited to see them. I sprayed them down with Lysol, a necessary precaution, and took them out. They were huge, but then again I’m also pretty big myself, so I figured they were perfect. I slid them across my living room and watched them glide with ease, just like the people I had seen at the beach. I couldn’t wait for that to be me.

For the next hour, I watched video after video of skating tips and tutorials for beginners, making sure I reviewed everything before I tried to get on those huge wheels. Once I felt assured enough, I decided to strap myself in. I put them on easily and put on my protective gear I ordered on the side because I had learned my lesson before.

I was on my couch and stood on my rug and felt terrified immediately. I am terrified of heights, and the skates were adding six inches to my height, bringing me to be over six feet. I was so scared, but I didn’t want to give up before I even began.

I walked around my rug and got a feel for the skates. I remember in the videos they had said to bend your knees and bring yourself closer to the ground, so that’s what I did. It did help relieve the scary feeling of being the size of a building for me.

I placed my foot on my wooden floors and tried to get a feel for it. It’s so easy to be unstable on a smooth surface it scared me. I was over being scared, though. I just wanted to learn how to skate.

So here I was, 4 a.m., putting both of my feet on the floor for a moment of truth. I hoped I wouldn’t fall right away. I picked up my right foot first and leaned to the right, then repeated the same with the left. I didn’t look at my feet like the videos had said because that causes performance anxiety. By some miracle, I was skating with little to no effort. It came as such a shock to me.

I’ve never been able to do anything sport-related so easily in my life. It felt good to finally be able to do something. I spent the next hour going back and forth across my living room, only falling once. I wasn’t discouraged by it, however. The people in the videos told me that falling was a part of skating and it was unavoidable. The best thing to do is get back up and try again. I got back up and continued practicing going back and forth.

I know it’s only a small accomplishment, but I was so proud of myself this day. I know I had a long way to go, but I finally hadn’t given up on something that I wanted to do, despite how scary it was. I know I have a long way to go, but I was hopeful that I’d only grow and get better.