In a few posts earlier I concluded the year to 2016 rather early relative to previous years — I was about to go on a ski trip and had other pressing deadlines in front of me. Blogging therefore seemed an attractive option. A few days ago when I met Beatriz again I realised I have yet to adequately reflect on the ski trip, what I did and how I felt which was bad given that this ski-trip was so much more eye-opening to me than I originally expected.
In terms of getting to know myself as a person.
I have always loved reading ThoughtCatalog articles despite the general consensus that most of them are trashy and do more harm to you than good, painting you unrealistic expectations of love and what a partner should be, making your life sound unfulfilled and dull compared to what others are living out in their young adult years. I feel that these articles allow me to reflect on myself and what I am doing and thinking relative to others my age. On the other hand, the ski trip allowed me to understand myself from a completely different perspective as I started reflecting on why I made certain decisions during the 5 days of skiing as a beginner. These were things I would never have realised through reading and reflecting on what I read.
The one biggest thing I learnt about myself was that:
I am totally risk averse.
During the first day we (no wait, I) barely learnt the snow plough, I barely learnt how to turn on a plough (let’s not even talk about parallel turning), and I barely learnt how to even go straight without falling down. We made our way to the top of Bollin Green, some shit baby slopes that most beginners can go after 15 minutes, and my balls literally shrank. I fell from the chair lift. I fell about 100 times down the slopes and troubled everyone who were more suited to skiing on red slopes, or even blacks.
I hated it when I fell down several times and I couldn’t get up myself because of my lack of confidence on the ski slopes; I didn’t even dare to stand on one ski before slipping my foot in the other. On flat ground. I am not afraid of falling down. But I am afraid of not being able to get up after that, both literally and figuratively.
This attitude got even more painfully obvious during the second day when I started to see people getting injured — Gennie and Beatriz tearing their ACLs. I was completely unconfident on the slopes at this point and Bollin Green would still scare me, but here we were going up the chairlifts for a ride that took more than 15 minutes. We arrived at our destination and goodness gracious, I saw the first slope that we had to embark on. “How was this even meant for a beginner?!” These were the initial thoughts I had and readily vocalised, which clearly showed my initial feelings and apprehension. In my heart I reminded myself repeatedly that I could not do it with the level of skiing I was used to.
But what if I actually could and tried? For most of the rest of the day I was telling myself “I can do it, HP you can do this, don’t be afraid. You can just fall down and you will be able to stand up again. Fear is the only thing holding you back.” rather than “I want to do this! I want to go down this slope! I want to go faster!”
In retrospect, these thoughts were definitely inappropriate for a supposedly pleasurable and enjoyable recreational trip. Sadly I picked up the techniques to skiing less slowly than the rest because of my fear of going fast, my fear of subsequently falling down from losing control, and my fear of getting injured. These fear factors directed me to return to my comfort zone time and again, to return to familiar slopes instead of venturing into something new. Not having sought excellence in sporting activities all this while throughout my childhood and teenhood was more of an excuse than a reason — this was learning from basics and everyone was on the same page. It was the attitude that one held to learning. Running fast or being good at ball sports did not give you any advantage. It merely gave you confidence and belief that you could excel at something; only your learning attitude mattered at this point.
Unfortunately these series of slopes that we were somewhat forced to descend from, with the countless skis of faith that I had put in, scarred me so much that I never wanted to attempt another unfamiliar slope. What if I never make it down all the way? I certainly did not want to go on the snow mobile and end up at the medical centre, because injuries scared me so much. I already had a chronic lower back strain and episodes of knee and ankle strains during BMT. It was a repeat mantra to myself that I could always come back another holiday (will I really?) and it was okay to learn it slowly but steadily. I returned to Bollin Green and the baby green slopes that the instructors brought us to the next few days and told myself I was never going to go further than that.
On the fourth day of skiing we were mostly left to our own devices, and I embarked on the Bollin Blue after gaining some confidence in skiing in the lessons with the instructor. I had no more intention of going on steeper slopes for a more adventurous time, even turned away from the rest when they wanted to go on Henry which was a blue slope similar to that of Bollin Blue. On my final ski down the last part of the slope, I had a bad fall while trying to avoid a snowboarder who had too fallen down, and while I strained my body slightly I still felt okay. I could walk and I could still walk/ski downwards after getting up. Until I took the chairlift up to the slopes again and felt a sharp pain in my ankles upon alighting. That was my last time on the ski slopes. I did not want to aggravate my strains any further, the least I wanted was another chronic muscle or tendon strain. I took the day off on the last day and self-concluded my trip.
My attitude to taking risks, while clearly obvious during the ski trip, started to make me realise why I have always made certain decisions at every point in my life. This was probably why I left the Floorball team back in 2012, which honestly till now is a life-changing decision because it sat me down to reflect for hours on end about who I was going to become (in the eyes of myself and many others) and whether I dared to vocalise these thoughts. This was why I dare not dabble in the stock market despite countless calls from my brother and father to invest, rather than letting my savings sit and rot in my bank account. This was why I stuck to choosing subjects that I performed well in during secondary school, rather than what I thought myself to be interested in (eg. I was keen in History as a subject but I did badly in my essays). This was why it took me so long to fall in love again.
Despite all that I have said I did enjoy the accomplishment when I managed to go down Bollin Blue the first time without falling down, or when I managed to go fast enough to accelerate all the way to the point of the chairlift again. Being risk averse has subconsciously affected many of my decisions without me thinking too much about it, and through the ski trip I honestly managed to understand myself on this depth and thought about the way I make decisions. You truly learn only when you leave your comfort zone, and for this the ski trip has been extremely valuable to me in growing as a person. Now I know that I need to take baby steps out of this bubble of fear from risk, if not I will always be impaired or unproductive in my journey of learning throughout the rest of my life.
For all the people who were patient, helped me to stand up and waited for me all the time: thank you very much for teaching a clueless noob how to ski. 🙂