On Quitting and Saying “NO”

I like sportsing.  As a kid, I was a competitive swimmer for eight years. I played field hockey for a bit. I enjoy any water sport that involves paddles (mind outta the gutter!). I’ve recently started trail running and climbing (and I love both of them). I’m not particularly amazing at any sport. At one point, I had a promising swimming career, but puberty destroyed it with the combination of bodily and emotional changes. That was brutal. And emotional. I quit something that I had done for half of my life up to that point. It was a relief. I was not progressing. I did not enjoy it. Every practice felt like a punishment. I wasn’t kind to myself after poor performances. When I quit, it created the time for me to explore new opportunities. I fondly remember my last two years of high school. I still sportsed. The high school swim season (very relaxed). A season of track (where I learned that I should have ran cross-country since a mile was too short of a distance). I volunteered, joined school clubs, and worked to save for my first European adventure. It was glorious.

During college, I took skiing for a PE credit. I don’t remember much of it except riding to the ski mountain in my friend’s ancient, red Ford Tempo. I remember not being terrible, so I thought that when we moved to the Alps, my skiing would magically progress at warp speed.

Ron Swanson
Pipe dreams, yo.

I didn’t first ski until I was 19. It was once a week for 6 weeks. After that, I didn’t ski again until I was 33. For one day. And then one more time when I was 34, right before I got pregnant. For one day. Then we moved to the Alps. To a town famous for extreme skiing, so of course I had never heard of it.

I had fantasies of me swishing down the pistes with the greatest of ease and then laughing while enjoying apres ski. Fantasy indeed. On my very best days, which has probably been 4 days in the last two years, I would be considered an advanced beginner. Meaning I feel confident on blues. On my worst days, I am a fucking disaster. A mental basket case, only capable of one or two runs. I’m so prepared for this, that I have mastered an elegant hip slide down steep spots. It looks impressive, according to my wife.

To be blunt, I fucking hate skiing. I thought if I tried it enough, I would eventually like it. The fear would dissipate. Practice. Practice. Practice. Get more instructors. I had an incredible instructor this year. The lesson stuck for 3 or 4 days. After that, it all fell out of my brain. Every time I go skiing, I am reminded of how badly I suck at this one thing that is second nature to everyone in town. I have made the decision to quit downhill skiing. And I feel great about it.

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Relief, y’all. Quitters sometimes win.

Most people move to this town because they are good skiers who want to become great. If they preferred the open water to mountains, they wouldn’t live here. I’m an anomaly. I’m unafraid of paddle sports and the open water. If I weren’t so melanin challenged, my ass would be on the water. All. Day. Long. Alas, I live in the mountains. I’ve decided to focus on mountain sports that I enjoy, like climbing, trail running and hiking. I’m not good at any of them, but I have a shit load of fun while doing them. That counts for a lot.

Since I’ve made the decision to give zero fucks about skiing, it’s as if an anxiety ball evaporated from my core. It’s inspired me to explore the power of “no”. At one point in life, I was an assertive person who said “no” when I did not want to be bothered with something. Then life happened. It became complicated. I heard rumblings that people thought me to be a bitch. I thought I could make people happy by saying “yes”and overburdening myself. Hear this now. I am 38. And I will start saying “NO”. And maybe “I said NO”. And if that doesn’t work “Fuck off! I said no, mother fucker!”Boundaries, y’all.

All the money that would have been spent on my ski pass for next winter will go to the equivalent in local spa days. And I cannot wait.

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