The first day post learning how to ride a bike I was in a state of freedom. I felt powerful. I was seven, and I was going to conquer the world. It was a beautiful feeling, and I believed it couldn’t really get better than knowing how to ride a bike.
One day, my sister and I went out for a bike ride. The sun was shining, the breeze was moving along just right- perfect bike ride weather.
I got onto that bike and I moved into that world of flying, huffing my way up mountains and then rocketing down the hills.
My sister, being older than me, was moving a bit faster, and as I always will, I was trying my hardest to catch up.
When I finally reached the top of the hill, my sister looked at me with a grin.
Which seven year old won’t race her nine year old sister down a hill?
Nodding eagerly, I braced myself for the speed- my sister was already halfway down.
I couldn’t let her win, and so off I went.
I moved faster than I expected, and for a second I forgot about that important factor of riding my brakes.
In seconds, my front wheel had hit my sisters back wheel and my bike and I were heading in two very different directions.
I fell, shoulder slammed into pavement, in some sort of shock.
My sister, somehow barely hurt, ran to inform my mother of the tragedy- surely, I would never walk again.
I remember tears forcing their way out of my brave eyes. I was in physical pain, and plenty of it, but I also was shocked that the bike that I loved so much could have caused this to happen.
In the end, no bones were broken, just plenty of skin.
My mother cleaned up my wound, but my pride was hurt more than my back.
I refused to ride a bike for a few weeks before I got over it. I was seven, after all.
But each time I got on that bike, a moment of fear would grip me. I no longer trusted the bike or myself to keep me safe. I positively refused to head down a hill if there was another person ahead of me. Some things change you for life, you know?
I fall off my bike a lot. Not literally, but metaphorically. It always hurts, usually more than you expect. The damage is never really lasting- but it’s hard to get over.
It’s a good feeling when I trust myself- and it’s the worst feeling when I can’t. When I expect my own set boundaries and inner psyche to guard me from danger, and then they let me down.When I trip over my own feet- it’s always the most humiliating.
As I grow, I am learning to trust myself in a different way. As a child, I believed trusting myself would save me from everything that could be wrong.
At 18, I am learning that trusting myself might mean being kind to myself when I do fall. Pushing past the shocked feeling, and working on the getting up part.
The getting back up and getting back on is always the hardest, but most important.
If you aren’t afraid of falling, the falling doesn’t hurt as much.
Recently, I bought a bike. A grown up one. With all the fancy parts and gears. I got on that bike and took control, riding in circles, taking it slow.
The next day, my sister asked if I wanted to go on a bike ride. I agreed, donning my helmet and finding my brakes.
I came to a hill. I looked down. My sister was already light years ahead, but still close enough for me to ram into. I gave myself a second, and then pushed.
I was back on the bike and I wasn’t going to fall.
I was flying.