Dear Adult Who Lost Your Inner Child,
Written by Kirby Betancourt
Tonight you went to the roller rink. Despite it feeling like you walked into a time machine back to the late 80’s, it was full of people who obviously weren’t first timers. You walked past a group that brought their own skates complete with lights and modifications. The conversations you overheard were full of words you didn’t understand and phrases that were full of passion for this sport.
You immediately started panicking (inwardly of course). Your brain was racing with questions like, “What if I can’t do this?" "What if I look stupid, or worse - fall and hurt myself?!” Since you were meeting some friends, you couldn’t show any of your apprehensions on the outside. You calmly walked over to the benches and began lacing up your blades as you looked around at everyone else to make sure you were even doing that right. You took your time on purpose hoping your group would finish before you and skate off so you could panic in peace. That plan failed and it was time to stand up, in front of everyone watching (or so it felt.) It didn’t take you 10 seconds to realize that all of your fears were becoming true.
You do suck, you do look stupid, and you are going to hurt yourself. Your friends took off seamlessly into the crowd of laughing faces and people doing tricks. You were embarrassed and immediately put up a wall of defense. “Ugh my shoes are too big, my legs are too short!” You name it and the excuse littered your mouth. You felt cheated and angry. What did all these people have that you didn’t have? Why did it look so easy for them? Was there was some piece of universal knowledge about skating floating around that got skipped when they were passing out tickets at birth? (Apparently you aren't lacking drama in your life.)
After you realized that your mind was going to a dark place it had unfortunately been before - you finally caught yourself. You sat down and said, “Do not be that person who gives up before giving it a fair shot, do not let your pride get in the way of having fun, do not be arrogant and think you are going to be a pro at everything you do.” You are a pretty determined person so when you can tune out feeling stupid and judged (which is totally all in your head), then you can own it when it comes to progressing and learning something new. You started out slow and held on to the wall as people sped by going 80 mph (here comes the drama again but you get the idea)...
You felt like a baby deer learning to walk for the first time. You crept your way around the rink keeping your eyes laser focused on the ground in front of you and before long, looked up and had made it one full lap around the track without falling! You were so proud! So you did it again, and another lap, and another one. Did you ever get fast and good at skating? Absolutely not, but did you get better? Yes! Isn’t it strange that an adult who is talented at her job, confident, passionate, and loving life can be knocked off of her feet and feel so shameful when put in an environment that she is unfamiliar with?!
The best part of every story is the end, so you were on your last lap of the evening, you lost focus to avoid a fellow skater and went into a full blown Mario cart slipping on a banana scene in slow motion! You weren't able to catch yourself and your left butt cheek met the hard concrete floor with a big WHACK! It must have looked really funny and terrible at the same time because three men came running to help you up! You broke the awkwardness with a laugh so they would know they could laugh too - and that was that. The icing on the cake. All three things you feared when walking in the door became true. And it was ok.
I think fear is good for the soul, it wakes us up from the mundane. It reminds us that we are human! Falling is something that proves we are trying something new and out of our comfort zones. So you will wear this bruise proudly and will smile every time you sit down and feel pain for the next week - because you tried, and you didn’t take your skates off when you wanted to give up. You didn’t get mad at your friends as a defense mechanism for being embarrassed. You put your pride on the back burner and that is more than so many other people can say.
When was the last time you fell at a skating rink? When was the last time you tried to jump really high to grab a bar and missed and hit your knees? When was the last time you climbed a tree and got sweaty palms from looking down? Why do you lose your sense of being fearless as you get older - it shouldn’t have an expiration date. Adults should have just as many bruised shins and skinned knees as kids but you don’t. You don’t because society says, wake up, go to work, come home, repeat. You are here for so much more than that. You aren’t told to take risks (physical OR emotional), you aren’t told to try things you might suck at because heaven forbid you show anyone you have a weakness! Heaven forbid you show that you aren’t a machine stuck in autopilot that never makes a mistake.
So go make a mistake, go jump over a rock and trip and laugh about it, it’s good for the soul and will wake up a part of your heart that has been there all along - aching to be remembered.
Your inner child
Kirby Betancourt is an Austin,TX based artist who creates content and promotional materials for marketing with local businesses. Her and her husband, Justin, spend their free time seeing almost every movie that comes out in theaters (complete with a bucket of popcorn) and hanging out with their goofy black lab, Rome.