When you want to be better, what does that mean to you? For me, I’m as human as they come. I’ve got plenty of fears and insecurities. Doesn’t that suck? These are a default setting that comes with being human, yet it’s perceived as weakness. And at the end of the day, nobody wants to be considered weak. So what can we do? Challenge it and hope for the best? Fuck yeah.
A Fear Of Falling
I have a bad case of the clumsy. Like real bad kind of clumsy. Like losing my bloody equilibrium on flat ground clumsy. Like stupidly dropping my phone unprovoked and accidentally kicking it to the other side of the room in a panic kind of clumsy. To make things worse, I have an unfortunate fear of falling. It’s true. People usually get this feeling confused with heights. It won’t phase me personally if reality struck and I was atop some rooftop fifty floors up. The queasy feeling for me comes with the thoughts that follow. It’s the fact that I’m so damn clumsy that while I trust the sturdy fifty floor building, I don’t trust myself from doing something stupid. That’s where the fear comes from. But what else can you do when you’re a victim to your own fear? I mean, for me fall hazards are everywhere. So one day, my brave seventeen year old self decided to challenge it. I bought a longboard in 2011 and decided to learn how to cruise and skate with my friends. By God I wish I could tell you I was a damn prodigy, but I wasn’t. I wish I could tell you I was a decent skater at least, but I wasn’t. I… fell… so fucking much. My dumbass whacked into a tree because I was busy drafting a message on my phone. For those who don’t know me, I’m the last person who should be attempting to multitask. I’m the type of person that, if you see me occupied with something like, being on my phone, I am completely useless in initiating any other tasks, even simple tasks like answering a question. A couple days into my longboarding career, I was starting to get the hang of it despite falling every now and then. But eventually, it went from what the fuck am I doing to I kind of know what the fuck I’m doing.
Here’s a cheeky photo of me skating through the sunshine.
That’s when longboarding got so fun. I hadn’t conquered the fear yet, but I was having the best time. Imagine it. It’s a sunny cloudless Saturday afternoon, you’re with your best pals and you’re sevenfuckingteen. You have no real obligations. Stress free. Your biggest stress of the day is if you’re meeting up with the boys at 12PM or 2PM. Life is good. What started with a few of us boys just meeting up at our local park to chill out and skate, for a time became something bigger. More mates joined in on the fun, started buying longboards and as one of the coolest phases I’ve ever been apart of, we had a community of skaters in our little suburban hub. I woke up one fateful day, not knowing I was about to conquer a goddamn fear. It was like any other Saturday. I left my house, plugged in my earphones. Intro by the XX. Imagine that shit blasting in your ears as you cruise on a Simpsons-themed Duff Longboard by Santa Cruz. Bliss. Oh yeah, my board had a bottle opener. Weird flex I know, but ok. That was just our life back then, longboarder by day, drink ups at Ed’s by night. I’m Ed.
So I’m on the way to the meet-up point and there they were. A bunch of them already chilling there waiting, and we unknowingly went toward the steepest downhill we had ever faced. Once we reached the peak, we looked down over the road that we were about to “fearlessly” skate down. So many things going through my head.
Shit this is really steep, what if I fall?
What if I get hurt? Why do my legs feel like jelly? Oh God.
Was this a bad idea? This is probably a really bad idea. Like real bad.
Before my millions of stress thoughts could complete their cycle, one of the guys already went for it. Just went head first with no warning. Nothing in the bulletins, newsletters, not even a post-it note. He just went for it. And he went quick. The road was so steep that we lost sight of him half-way through the track and before I knew it, my body started moving on its own. I was the second to skate down this steep beast. No time to think, just do. I began to feel the wind hit me hard, I had never gone skating this quick. No helmet, no knee pads, no nothing. Shit was dangerous, but exhilarating. I had a heap of adrenaline oozing out, my vision blurred with excitement and fuzzy images of the view just blending into each other. I couldn’t believe it. I was going to conquer my fear today. Mark the day boys, January 10th, 2012. Almost 7 years ago. I conquered my suffocating fear of falling. That is, until I finally regained vision of my mate who had gone first. He was frantically trying to get my attention. I couldn’t understand why, I couldn’t hear a word coming out of his mouth.
And then I saw it. Rocks. Heaps of little fucking rocks scattered through the road. Oh shit. At the speed I was going, there was no way I could foot-break in time, there was no way I could jump off the board either. I went in for the kill. Upon impact, my board immediately flipped a complete 180, full horizontal. And me? Oh I flew off. My air time was impressive I’ll have to admit. The next part wasn’t as impressive. Whacked into the ground, smacked my head onto the gravel, spun around a couple of times until finally, it all stopped. I lost my vision for a couple moments. Once I regained it, all I could see were people running towards me. I looked at myself, holes in my hoodie. Bloody scabs and gashes around my arms, legs and a pretty bad migraine. To be completely honest, it could’ve easily went down way worse. Moral here is to wear protective gear.
Yeah that all sounds brutal I know, but holy shit what an experience! In my books, I still conquered my fear of falling, to a degree. Of course I still feel a little queasy when the world challenges me on my fear, I’m only human after all. But I always think back to this day as the day I won against my own phobia. The thing is, everyone’s got their own fears… falling, heights, spiders, you name it. I mean, I’ve always hated needles too. Complete and utter fear towards them things. I mean come on, it’s volunteering to get stabbed by a stranger for God’s sake. So what did I do to combat this? Just thought, fuck it and got a bunch of tattoos on me. At the end of the day, your fears are only as big as you make it out to be. You choose how much control they have over you. Either let it take hold of your being, or challenge it.