A new year.
I recently learned to ski. Learning something new as an adult is not easy. It can be awkward, embarrassing, and frustrating. Especially when you are learning to strap your feet into two sticks and barrel down a mountain at high speeds around what seems like a million other people.
That first day skiing had its disheartening moments. As I was making my way down the mountain, practicing slow but steady turns according to the exact technique my instructor had taught me, there were children flying past me, in full pizza position, completely unaware of the correct turning technique and seemingly oblivious to the numerous potential dangers around them. For example, when I started to pick up speed, my train of thought would immediately turn catastrophic – what if I hit a rock and go flying and break all four limbs and die? what if I skid and hit a tree and die? what if I can’t turn fast enough and go flying off the edge of the mountain and die? what if I can’t stop and collide with someone and we both die? what if the leash on my glove gets caught on a branch and rips off my arm and I die?
All reasonable and totally valid concerns.
When children learn something new, like skiing, they tend to go all in. They pick up the skill fast and have little concept of the risks, social or physical, involved. They decide pretty quickly whether or not they like it, then they move on either way.
When an adult learns something new, they tend to be more aware of the social and physical risks involved. This can make it more difficult to go all in. For example, if I am hyper aware of how embarrassing it is to fall in the lift line (totally not speaking from experience), then I might be extremely cautious and aware of my actions in the lift line. In general, it takes longer to pick up and master the skill, so it may take longer to decide whether or not we like it.
It’s way easier to learn new things as a child. But my experience learning to ski reminded me that learning new things as an adult is so valuable. Taking social and physical risks makes you grow and even allows you to surprise yourself. Like who knew it was possible to fall while standing stationary enjoying the mountain view? What a surprise!
Now, on to mastering aprés skiing.