You build gumption slowly. You increase courage gradually. You develop determination piece by piece. In the end, the sum of all your little courageous steps add up, you’ve gone further than you’ve imagined, and now you’ve got the skills to tackle the bigger challenges. And guess what? Your old problems might not look so big by then. - Ki'Une
As embarrassing as it may sound, I passed a quarter of my life not knowing how to ride a bicycle. It was mostly my fault because I was a shut in and preferred watching television than playing outside. I never had the need to acquire that skill and I was smart enough in using evasive tactics that most of the people I know at school never knew about it (including my best friend). When I finally realized how useful the skill was I had already fallen under the influence of two fears - fear of embarrassment and fear of other people's opinion.
Although the circumstances were a bit different I also didn't see swimming skills as a necessity and dismissed it entirely. I would go to swimming pools with friends and just be contented dipping in the shallow areas tip-toeing my way on the slightly deep parts. I didn't even know a single stroke. Without realizing it, the same two fears have already take over.
I believe that fear of embarrassment and fear of other people's opinion work hand in hand in limiting a person's capabilities. As adults, we are usually pulled into the dilemma of going with the flow of society or going against it. Public opinion can be an effective soul-crushing weapon especially in a society where we are taught to care about what others think of us. That was my mistake. I cared and, in turn, I became afraid. I was afraid that I would get laughed at for being an adult who didn't know how to ride a bike. I was afraid that people would talk about me while my swimming instructor teaches me how to properly perform a freestyle stroke.
With the help of my friend Kenny, I was able to find a private swimming instructor. The nervousness that I felt on my first session was mostly caused by my fears since the place was a bit packed at the time. The first session was more like drowning lessons and I drank a couple of liters from the pool (I had the longest pee in my life afterwards). After the session I realized something. Throughout the session people in the resort stopped to look for a minute or two but later on went about minding their own business. People noticed but no one cared except me. I was too hooked into thinking about what they might be thinking about me that I couldn't concentrate on my lessons.
The day after my first swimming lesson, Kenny urged me not to go home yet so he can teach me how to ride a bike. I had a "rough" time trying to balance myself on an uneven slope beside the rice fields. The same old fears tried to grip me as passersby looked at me and saw my feeble attempts. Again, I was mistaken for fearing their opinion because nobody took a second look. To them I was just someone trying to learn how to ride a bike. I was the one who was making things complicated. My friend then urged me to try biking on even ground and to my surprise I was already able to do it (though I still sucked at turning). Afterwards, he had me follow him on the road to a store nearby where we bought Gatorade. Boy, was I glad to chug down that drink. The afternoon was capped off with the two of us biking on the road in the middle of the fields with the golden sunset sky overhead. It was a moment that I will always remember.
It's always a great feeling when you start realizing things that you've taken for granted before. These realizations come with lessons that give you a new perspective on how to live your life. You see things with a fresh set of eyes. On that fateful weekend faced my fears head on and acquired new skills that can help me go farther on my travels. Truth be told, they did. More about it on my next post :)« Previous Post Next Post »