Guest Post

Falling ain’t that bad (Guest post)

Since my first blog contribution to FIFI in September, I realised that many of the experiences I was considering writing about were based around new experiences. From trying “spike ball” the first time, to wiping out at surfing (that one never made it on here), to my frustrations with winter running (that’s more a venty-blog – ironically, my winter running has never been better), all these activities arose because they seemed to rattle me because they were so new.

Don’t get me wrong – I know there is nothing wrong with trying new things. In fact, I’ve had a ton of fun with all these new adventures! I recently went skiing for the first time, which has long been on my list of things I, and I am obsessed. Yes, I’m already looking out for those outdoor gear discounts so I can buy some swanky ski pants.

I seek out trying new things because I recognise the importance of continually put myself out there and being exposed. I feel a heightened sense of vulnerability when learning new activities. It’s not like I am overly bad at any of them, but trying something new, particularly physical, can be daunting. I find that’s why a lot of people don’t do much, or end up with a long list of things that I just-can’t-wait-to-do that seems to never go anywhere.

So, in the hopes that somebody out there reading this is scared to try something new, I hope that some unsolicited advice from a regular trier-of-new-things might positively trigger something in you:

  1. Everybody falls.

This one is my favourite. When we hit the slopes at the small hills just outside of Toronto, I was hoping I’d get off the bunny slopes. After learning to pizza and french fry, we went across the tracks and asked if we could upgrade to the ski-lift runs. The instructor we asked was shocked, “We don’t usually get that request over here,” he told us. We upgraded. We ski-lifted.

Once we got to the top of the ski lift, we see the small pile of fallen skiers and snowboarders and the realisations start setting in. I hop of the ski lift and catch the small hill down from the lift on both skis and my bum, because I guess I didn’t want to stand up! We laugh off our unceremonious exit, get situated, and prepare ourselves for the first hill. What we didn’t realise until later is that the ski lift we went up connected to about 5 or 6 different runs. We thought we only had the option of going down this one run – which ended up being a moderately difficult run. I was scared but we tried it anyway. I ended up stuck after my second fall unable to pop my ski back in. My friend had to sidestep back up the hill to where I was waiting and help me get the ski back on!

Naturally, my friend realized how frustrated I was and asked if I wanted to take a break. But I said no, and hopped right back in line. The second time off the ski lift was much better, and it dumped us off at a sign that let us know that we don’t have to go down the same run every time. We breathed a sigh of relief. We ended up going down the friendly (green) line, a trail to an easier downhill terrain, twice and had a lot of fun.

2. Take it in stride

After those slightly successful friendly runs, it was easy to see that nearly everyone was on their bum – and struggling to get back up since snowboards and skis are very awkward.

Skiing is one of those sports that can show anyone on any given day the reality of failure. No one is safe, but that doesn’t mean we should stop trying! I like to think of my life in relation to metaphors of successes and falls, since that’s where I embody failure the most. When surfing back in September, I wiped out hard to the point where I curled up into a ball to wait until the wave past. With a dose of salt water up my nose I sprung out of the water and onto my board to beat the next wave. But that wipe out still rattled me.

For some reason, thinking of failures as falls is a bit more managing to me. Because, that’s really all it is. I fell off my surfboard, I fell while skiing, I fell off my training regimen. It doesn’t mean we are banned from trying again. I think the best way to do it is to look around you, take it in stride, and realise that we are all falling together.

3. Do it again!

One of the last things I’d like to mention is that it’s important to find little successes. It can be hard to find success when we’re constantly comparing ourselves to others’ success stories. For me, getting out onto the slopes for the first time is a huge success! Wanting to go back is yet another success! The more you go out and try something the more times you’ll realise that success doesn’t have to be spectacular like breaking a brick. It can be simply trying once more to break the brick. You go, Audrey!

If trying new things scares you, make sure you do things that are familiar and comfortable as well. Familiarity is useful for your body to relax and to continue moving while not in a state of tension or high adrenaline. This also helps your body to think that the new activities are part of your routine. If trying one new activity a month is your thing – then you will start to look forward to those falls!

Image description: Head shot of Cami, a young white woman with glasses and long brown hair, smiling, trees in the background.

Cami is a PhD candidate at Western University studying the ethics of women’s sports science. Her studies stem from her past as a professional volleyball player and personal trainer. Now she prefers to climb rocks, tend her vegetable garden, camp, hike, surf and play in the water.

9 thoughts on “Falling ain’t that bad (Guest post)

  1. One of the downsides to instagram and facebook videos is that most of them are people doing awesome impressive stuff. Hardly anyone (myself well included) posts a video of the first 50+ times they tried to do that thing and failed.

    1. Love this comment, Renee! It’s funny how that happens, even when sometimes those falling videos can be inspiring and can invite in new perspectives. Note to self.. post more fail videos!

  2. Great post! Good for you for getting out there. I love how you reframe falling as learning. As someone who came back to skiing and ski racing after a 25 year break, I have had to work through all kinds of fears and obstacles (my own and others’). I wrote about this a while back as I was getting ready to head to race camp out in Colorado–thought you might appreciate it:

    1. That was a wonderful read, Pamela! Thank you! I think you nailed it. And sometimes it’s hard to recognize that you’re actually scared of something – but when you move past it and overcome a fear it’s a great feeling! Skiing definitely scared me, and the possibility of crashing still does, but the reward is much sweeter. Cheers!

  3. Love the post! Yes, falling is a part of learning all kinds of things. A PART. Not a failure. Glad you keep reinforcing that. Learning to use clip-in pedals on a road bike involves accepting that falling is going to happen. For me it happened when a child on a bike stopped in front of me at a crowded part of a bike path, and I couldn’t clip out. I tipped over, super embarrassed. Then several people swarmed around me, asking if I was okay. I was injured only in my pride. But that went away. No harm done. And I learned how to use the pedals.

    1. Oh, what a great story (and moreso because you didn’t get seriously hurt). It seems like you have to fall the right amount – nothing too dangerous but something embarrassing enough – to reinforce a behavior and actually learn!

  4. Such a good set of messages! It can be hard (at least for me!) to start learning new things and not master them right away, even when I am at a perfectly reasonable skill level for someone who just started learning. These feelings crop up especially frequently when I’m around people who are more experienced at or are better at the thing I’m learning. Usually, though, when I push through my own self-doubts and frustrations, I do end up getting better.

    As someone who was academically gifted and decent at physical fitness activities as a child, I’ve had to do some work as an adult to adopt a growth mindset; because of it, I’ve achieved a lot of things that I wouldn’t have managed if I had let my early failures stop me from trying again.

    1. Wonderful, thanks for comments Emily! I hear you in that when things come a little easier as a child, it’s hard to shake that and realize you need to keep growing. I’m happy for all that you’ve achieved with this mindset!

Comments are closed.