This picture showed up in my Facebook memories this morning, so I thought I’d tell the story of my one and only time skiing, plus my takeaways or life lessons from this experience. Can’t you just see the fear in my face?? Eeek.
Setting the Stage, er, Slope
It was March 2016 and Reid and I had some friends visiting us in California who we wanted to go to Big Bear Mountain with. I had no plans to ski, but I was still excited for the trip because it was my birthday weekend and I figured we’d check out a brewery or two then I’d get to relax reading my Kindle while everyone else in the group skied.
We show up to the ski gear rental place, Reid fills out his form on one of their computers set up around the wall, then I look over and see him starting on another form – for me!
I’m all, “No, no, no, please don’t waste the money on me, I really don’t want to ski. I don’t think I’ll like it, and it’s expensive, and I mean, have you SEEN how uncoordinated I am in just normal everyday life? I trip over leaves, and I get so many unexplained bruises on my thigh I can only assume are from walking into corners of tables that I’ve just grown so used to I don’t even realize I’ve done it… If ANYONE ever is going to careen off the marked path and into a tree while skiing it’s going to be me! It’s just not worth the risk!”
However, I think Reid thought I’d have FOMO if I didn’t go up onto the slopes with everyone, and I have said I’ll try anything once, so I do believe he was trying to be sweet by signing me up for my ski sesh. Oh, if only I would have liked it.
Sobbing on the Bunny Slope
First off, getting into all the ski gear is a pain in the butt. Literally, I think I wobbled and fell on my tush the first time trying to step into the ski boots. Needless to say, I already felt pretty helplessly out of my comfort zone.
Then, the ski lift. I didn’t even think about what the process would be for getting off the lift until I was already sitting on it, swinging my legs going up, up, up. Cue a few very intense moments of anxiety bordering on panic.
What if my ski toe (is that what you can call it?) catches the beginning of the hill as we approach the dismount so I pitch forward and faceplant off the lift? What if I run into that kid from the lift ahead of us who IS NOT GETTING OUT OF THE WAY FAST ENOUGH? What if I slide down from the lift and can’t find a spot to the side to stop and just keep sliding into the slope-y part and going down way too fast?? Ugh.
Reid and friends had given me the whole “french fry” vs “pizza” lesson before we went up (basically, keep your skis parallel like side-by-side french fries when you want to be going, then turn your toes in toward each other like a pizza slice stretching out in front of you if you were the crust when you want to slow down). Let’s just say that even what was probably painfully slow to everyone around me felt way way way too fast to me.
I just felt very out of control. On one side of the slope, snow was piled up so that was fine, but on the other side was a ditch filled with rocks that housed the little kiddies’ lift where it was like a conveyor belt along train tracks chugging them up the bunny bunny slope next to ours. Every time I was doing the part of the zig-zag down the slope that headed toward the rocks, I kept feeling like I was going to lose control and crash into the ditch, maybe taking down some poor unsuspecting child(ren) with me.
One time, I had “picked up speed” (quotes there just because it felt like it to me but probably still looked extremely manageably slow to all others), and I was yelling to Reid, “I’m pizza-ing! I’M PIZZA-ING!!!” But was not slowing down.
My one ski crossed under the other, causing me to flip over myself, twist my knee, and land on my hip. Right there, I decided I had confirmed my suspicion: I hate skiing.
I started crying, actually surprised at myself that I held it together for as long as I did, and started snapping off my skis on the middle of the slope. Reid snowboarded up and stopped next to me with ease, all, “What are you doing?” I told him I was walking down the side of the slope to the bottom and not coming back up.
He said, “You can’t quit after your first fall, that’s like falling off a horse and not getting back on again! Besides, you’re doing much better than you think you are!”
I sobbed, “I don’t care how well I’m doing, I’m hating every second of it, and this is exactly why I just wanted to read my Kindle and watch from the lodge at the bottom!”
Reid told me if I finished this run, and then went down two more times for a total of three solid tries of giving skiing a shot, then I could stop. To this day, I don’t know how I did the next two runs as fast as I did, and I’m sure the kids and adults around me all thought I was the most pathetic sad story of a ski trip, as I fell multiple more times and tears dripped down my face throughout my multiple pity parties convincing myself to get back up and not just lay in the snow until someone rescued my sorry butt. Maybe I went along with his plan just so that I could prove to him (and anyone who subsequently asked) that I followed the rules for giving it an honest try, fair and square, and everyone could then leave me alone about not skiing for the rest of the day (and the rest of my life).
Life Lessons from Feeling Less-than on Skis
In the moment of crying in the snow, I felt disappointed in myself. It was one of those instances where I wish I felt differently, and wondering if I was just self-sabotaging myself with my stubborn “don’t wanna” attitude, but even as I’m aware of how that could be the case, not being able to change the way I’m feeling.
I actually said things to myself inside my head like, “Reid would love me more if only I were more athletic and adventurous and down to take on the slopes with a can-do and fun-loving attitude with him. Maybe he’d be happier married to someone like that, who could keep pace with him and share in these experiences with him that he seems to want.” That is so sad to me now! I literally want to cry harder writing and thinking about that now than I ever cried while skiing.
As I sat at the bottom of the mountain, watching clearly experienced skiers navigate the final run of the higher difficulty slope, even as I could see how it had taken them tons of practice and now they probably enjoyed skiing so much, I just couldn’t EVER see myself liking it that much even if I did take the time to get good at it. And I decided, that’s okay.
I don’t have to enjoy or even do something just because others are! And, there are plenty of things I probably like doing that others refuse to. For example, horseback riding. People are scared of horses or had a bad experience trying to ride and have decided that it’s just not for them, meanwhile, I LOVE horseback riding and would pick it over skiing (or hiking, or any other athletic adventure activity) any day.
People are different, and I can now rest in knowing skiing is just not for me. Because, 1) it’s dangerous, especially for me, it’s not worth the risk, especially when 2) I don’t even like the way I feel while doing it. Case closed.
I think I told you about my one and only skiing experience, right? My Daddy spent an hour or so with me on the slope that had a pull-role to get you up the hill. The bunny hill. I did ok, although I didn’t like how restricted my ankles were in the boots. We got on the ski lift, and I had a similar freak-out experience to yours. My Daddy helped get me off the chair, and I fell down and had to be dragged out of the way of the other skiers…. I started crying. It was so cold my tears were freezing to my cheeks. My Daddy led me down the mountain slope, and I fell a time or two, but I was then escorted to get out of all that crazy gear, and I joined my Mom in the lodge, where we drank hot tea and I read books.