I'm here at Snowbird Resort in Utah this week enjoying some epic snowboarding conditions, fresh mountain air, and gorgeous "marshmallow" trees (what I call pine trees coated in a thick layer of snow to the point where they look fluffy and soft;), and of course, learning some life lessons to bring back to you. 

Truth be told...I'm really not that good at snowboarding. In fact, I kind of suck at it. So much so that I would get this little nervous pit in my stomach in the days leading up to our vacation. You see, my boyfriend is an avid snowboarder. Not only can he cruise down the slopes and dig into risky terrain, but he can carve beautiful lines into the fresh snow. Much like how pointe shoes become an extension of our bodies and only serve to enhance what we can do on our own, the snowboard becomes a natural extension of his, allowing him to fly down the mountain with ease and grace.

I want to have that ease and grace with the snowboard, too...but mostly I feel awkward and fearful with the board strapped to my ankles. The temptation to avoid taking the chairlift to the top of the mountain and instead sit in the lodge sipping hot cocoa is strong. Why put myself in an uncomfortable situation where I'm going to fail and disappoint myself when I can just avoid it altogether?

Because failure is an important part of growth - that is why.

We do this a lot with our ballet. When you are not good at something, instead of relentlessly attacking and practicing it, we often avoid it. Perhaps you have a difficult time with left pirouettes. Instead of practicing them twice as often as you do on your right side to get more comfortable, you just keep whipping out your multiple right pirouettes and hope that no one notices when you can barely land a double to the left. Or, maybe petit allegro is your nemesis. Instead of forcing yourself to practice with each group in the center, you decide to take a bathroom break during this portion of class so you can avoid the embarrassment of messing up the steps. Does any of this sound familiar?

It takes a lot of courage to say, "Okay, self, we are going to do this. We are going to fall down a lot, make a "fool" of ourselves, and make a ton of mistakes, but we are going to launch into this process because it is the only way we will get better and learn."

It is such a useful skill to practice falling down, facing defeat, humility, shame, & disappointment...and then getting back up to try again. And, that is one of the reasons I love snowboarding - because it is helping me become comfortable with these important life lessons:

  • I'm still learning to be kind to myself when I fail.
  • I'm still learning to accept that I'm not the best and never will be "the best" at everything (or anything!) I do.
  • I'm still learning that I don't have to be good at something to enjoy it.
  • I'm still learning that life is about making mistakes, picking myself back up and adjusting course, and then trying again.
  • I'm still learning that falling down has just as much value in shaping my character as success.
  • I'm still learning that life is meant to be experienced, not planned out and anticipated every step of the way.

The second option might seem easier in the short-term, but it can make things real messy in the long-run. We are meant to make mistakes and to learn from them. Put yourself in uncomfortable situations. Let yourself fall down. Allow yourself to suck. Just because you are not good at something, or "the best," doesn't mean it's not incredibly worthwhile and instrumental in crafting your character. Don't be afraid to let yourself fail...it's an important part of growth.

What do you struggle with? What makes you uncomfortable to the point where you avoid it but know you shouldn't?

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