And there are things I keep wanting to tell them. Like, sit down creepily close and say in a conspiratorial voice tell them.
In some of them, I see bits of old me. The timid, awkward, too tall and skinny me that wasn't very good at skating and knew it. The me that wanted nothing more but to be good, yet always felt a little stupid.
Old me is really craving this conversation. So, for the bits of her in everyone, here's what I'd say:
I'd say that skating's tough on everybody, and the girl that makes everything look flawless, is the one that's struggle the most. I'd say that falling's the only way to get better, and if you aren't falling every practice, then you're not challenging yourself enough.
I'd say that skating's not just physically tough, but mentally and emotionally tough. I'd tell them that it's a constant inner battle. You've got to show up, and skate your hardest, even when you don't want to. You've got to practice your least favorite things. You've got to suck it up and not be afraid to look like an idiot (and I know that's really, really hard when you're a gangly 13 year-old). You have to conquer your mind before you conquer your body.
I'd say that the only thing pretty about figure skating is the finished product. Everyone's either bled on the ice, or thrown up on the ice, or both. Everyone's stepped on the ice with guards on. You'll never find a weirder smell than sweaty feet + bunga pad + skate boot. And you know when you're spinning super, super fast? Snot flies out of your nose.
I'd tell them to think about skating, and decide where they want to go. Do you want to be a rec skater, or a figure skater? And if they picked figure skater, I'd tell them to stop treating it like a sport, and instead make it a lifestyle. We don't have a 'season', we skate all year. We don't 'exercise', we train. You're going to say no to hundreds of sleepovers and birthday parties. You're going to say goodbye to sleepy Saturdays for the rest of your life. You'll be nothing but aching legs, and in the winter, it will feel like you're never out of the cold. You'll never get a break, because then you run the risk of loosing everything you've worked hard for, and you can't risk that.
I'd ask them to take a moment, and decide if it's worth it. And if they said yes, I'd hug them on the spot.
Then I'd tell them that they can't eat a doughnut for breakfast every morning. But a hot chocolate on Saturdays after junior coaching for two hours? Go for it.
I'd tell them to start stretching now, because if you're anything like me, it will be years until you could be considered 'flexible'.
I'd say that skating's really expensive, and it only gets worse. I'd say that sometimes, you'll be paying for ice time with quarters from the change jar. You'll wear the same pair of skating leggings for a year longer than you should, because you'd prefer that money to go to your coach, than to your pants.
Then I'd pause for breath (or emphasis. Whichever) and say that you're going to be emotional. You'll have knots in your stomach. You'll have self-doubt, and nothing, nothing, will make you more insecure than the question of whether or not you're 'good enough'. The truth? We're never, ever good enough. We'll always fall. And fail. And skid. And rush our programs. And not remember to keep our head up.
But. I want to see you cry.
No, really. Because no one ever cried about something that didn't matter to them. There will be days where you'll break down and sob in your car, at the kitchen table, or on the phone with your mom. You feel like you've wasted everything, and why do you keep throwing so much at skating when you never get better? You'll ask what the point is. And you'll point out all your shortcomings.
But here's the thing: if you cry about skating, then you've got the gumption to really make something beautiful with it.
Most people won't get it. Your goals will be greeted with a pat on the head and an "Isn't that cute!". But you've got to throw your head back, and believe in yourself, because no one else is going to. You can't wait for people to say "Good idea!", you've just got to go for it. You'll never accomplish a thing if you start doubting yourself. Tell your subconscious to shut up. You're not crazy. You have a chance.
Get up early, write down your goals, eat right, off ice train, and hit the ice with a positive attitude. But most of all, remember to always skate with love. Even on the bad days. And the cold days. And the achy days. Let skating seep into your bones. I truly believe you've got to be it to see it, so don't hold any ounce of your being back.
Remember that goals don't have deadlines. Or, at least, not hard and fast ones. Remember that your goals are not someone else's, so stop the hate, and support each other. And remember that you're not going to be the best. You have no control over that. Instead, focusing on being the most dedicated, the kindest, and the most positive. The one that always gets up, is honest with her coach. and skates with bold authenticity.
So there. If you still want to do this skating thing, you're a very special person.
Take a moment to think about all the things you're good at. And all your potential. And, even if for only a brief second, believe you could reach every single goal you set. And then, go work towards astonishing yourself.
Happy Thursday! xo