Last weekend, I headed up to Lake Tahoe with a group of friends in an attempt to finally, once and for all, learn to ski. I signed up for a beginner lesson (highly recommended!), strapped one ski on, and slid around in a circle with my five co-students. By the end of the afternoon we had graduated to the second-highest beginner hill, and I learned how to ride a chair lift, pizza/french fry my way down the hill, and even almost do a proper turn. Luckily, I took more away from the slopes that day than skiing skills. Namely: confidence. Here's how:
From the time I strapped on the second ski, I was terrified. I've ice skated plenty of times in my life (the closest mental equivalent in my head) and this was nothing like skating. In fact, it was nothing like anything I've ever experienced before. Once our instructor decided we were ready for the chair lift, I was beside myself. Luckily, the first "hill" was anything but a hill. The second, though, was a different story. And since Tahoe hadn't seen fresh snow in a month before my first day out, portions of the hill were packed so solid I was skiing on ice. After taking a dive off of the chair lift, I was completely psyched out, and looking down at a hill that looked humongous was daunting.
For the rest of my experience, and to share your own, keep reading.
I inched my way down as five-year-olds on skis zoomed by (my future children will learn early in life), turning cautiously anytime I got within five feet of a lift pole, tree, or, on one side, a river. I made it to the bottom eventually, after having spent far too much time getting there. A friend joined me, and after watching a few slow and awkward turns suggested I try to pick up my speed, promising it would make it easier to turn and stay in control.
We jumped back on the chair lift, and this time I made it off without falling — a successful start. "Stay behind me," my friend instructed as we skid toward the bottom. I was terrified, but I kept my skis in line behind his, wedge-turning my way down the hill, picking up speed the whole way down. When we made it to the bottom (with no stops along the way!) I was overjoyed. Not only had I not fallen, I kept a respectable beginner pace and conquered some serious mental hang-ups.
I went back up the hill one more time that day, and made it down alone, at a decent clip, without my fear getting in the way. And this lesson learned from skiing is certainly applicable to everyday life, too. It's easier and less scary to inch your way through something, hesitating at every corner. It's far better to start off with a healthy dose of confidence, make the best use of your time, and concentrate on the skills you have to accomplish the task, not what could go wrong if you make a misstep. I call that a big, fat success, and yes, I will be returning to the mountain this weekend!