Learning how to ride a bike was a life changing experience for me, probably in the same way it is for most buck toothed little kids just trying to shed those burdensome training wheels. I would get so frustrated with them, knowing they were just getting in the way, totally slowing my roll (Ha!). They would cause you to teeter back and forth eventually hurdling you against every effort into the inevitable ditch filled with jagged rocks and mystery road sludge. The calamity dust would clear and the toppled bike wheels were left awkwardly rotating in the breeze, it was a daunting site for someone who just smashed their face in a pile of abandoned road garbage.
I learned how to ride on the side of a mountain by the way. When one small mistake would send the awkward bike and I over the edge like a projectile missile over a creek and into vicious two-way traffic. This was a lot of pressure for someone who was still nursing head to toe wounds after days of wallowing in the ditches. Looking back I think the pressure was a good thing, a heavy reminder to think before you act; how to not be an idiot during risky times.
Eventually the feeling was less scary, you learn to balance through the teetering and suddenly it all feels normal. Soon I was buzzing around, ready to hit the open road. The freedom to just go was enough to overcome scary hills and new pavement, the kind of anticipation that keeps you up at night.
Question: Where will you ride tomorrow? Answer: wherever I darn well please!
One day I was feeling exceptionally professional as any new bike rider with a perfect two wheeling record would, zipping around sharp corners only using the back breaks, visualizing Harrison Ford escaping the collapse of the Temple of Doom, or in this case carbon copy houses and slap happy Labrador Retrievers bouncing in the yard.
I had just made it to the bottom of a mountainous hill when a cul-de-sac out of nowhere appeared summoning the ditch diving past as the entire bike spun out in a violent combination of skin grating impact and aqua blue plastic grinding on asphalt.
I laid there sure I was dead, or at least missing a limb. The world came back into focus and there they were, the awkward tires creaking in the wind a reminder of the not so distant past. Just as quickly as it came, my confidence evaporated into thin air. All sense of feeling came flooding back at once as the sting set in, the crumpled bike, my exposed knee caps. This was one of those mistakes during risky times, the ‘omg that just happened’ gulp.
I’m not trying to make this a “get back on the bike tale” because I hate those, obviously I had to get back on the bike I was miles from home. It’s more of a, “it’s absolutely terrifying to get back on the bike, and for good reason” story. This is exactly how transitioning out of school world and into the working world has felt. Endless situations of trying not to be an idiot during risky times.
For a split second all of the freedom in the world is at your finger tips (excessive do life your own way blog posts). A bad day at work, or slight mistake during an interview, and the freedom starts to pull away.
Confidence slowly grows with practice and one small incident causes it to come crashing down challenging you to try it again. Those little moments of failure have a way of building the confidence back up into something stronger than it was before. Next time you avoid the cul-de-sac or take it slow, adjust and make better decisions, get a clearer vision. Rounding the bottom of the hill at full speed will always be nerve-wracking, a reminder that you are trying and attempting a challenge, but mostly it is a sign that you are learning.