Thursday, July 14, 2016

It's Okay To Fall Down

Photo Credit: Christopher Vanderyajt
So last month, Rebekah tried mountain biking. We took both our big kids to Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day at Mountain Creek Bike Park. They got instruction from pros, played on the pump track, and tried out bikes that are designed for this kind of thing. Elijah had fun; Rebekah fell in love. She came home with big plans to save up for one of the bikes she tried and to learn more. After that, she had an opportunity to do Kids Camp at Mountain Creek and jumped at the chance!

A lot of things come easily for Rebekah. She's the kind of kid that picks things up without any experience and looks like she's been doing them forever. She does amazing in school without even trying. She's naturally musical. She's graceful. We sometimes joke that she's the girl you'd hate if you could, but she makes you love her. It all sounds wonderful, but it's not. It's hard. It's hard because she thinks if she's not instantly great at something, it means she's completely terrible... not just at that thing, but as a person. (Did I mention she has a flare for the dramatic?) It's really difficult to find that sweet spot of challenging her without scaring her into giving up.

Photo Credit: Christopher Vanderyajt

So, she went to Kids Camp. She worked hard, had fun, and came home absolutely exhausted. It was all good for a few hours... and then just before bed it started. "I'm the worst mountain biker in the world." "I'm horrible. I'm the only one who fell, and I fell TWICE." "I'm never mountain biking again." Her anxiety and perfectionism were in full force.
Photo Credit: Christopher Vanderyajt
But by morning, something had shifted. She was talking about when she could go to the pump track to practice. She was making plans to earn money for a bike. She was asking about the next Kids Camp date. In her words, she feels good mountain biking because "it's outdoors, in nature, and it's active, using [her] muscles."

She said, "It makes me feel pressured. If I do this wrong then I might fall. But it's fun. I feel awesome. It makes me have adrenaline, and I like that."

I asked her about falling. She paused, "When I fall, I feel a little upset. But I get up and try again, and that feels good. I know that making mistakes makes me better. I know if I fall, it means I'm trying something hard so I can grow."

YOU GUYS! That's it right there. If she's learns nothing else, I'll still call it a success.

Photo Credit: Christopher Vanderyajt

We do not grow unless we push ourselves out of our comfort zones, unless we risk falling and failing. She's got it. She's learning to trust her body, her mind, and her coaching. Spending time on the mountain, with amazing coaches and professionals, she's in an environment that supports healthy risk taking that inspires growth, empowerment, and confidence. 

In a sport still often dominated by men, in a world still often dominated by men, being a girl on that mountain is even more powerful. At some point, the world is going to tell Rebekah she can't do something, whether because of her age, her gender, or whatever else. But she's going to know, that even if it's hard, even if she falls the first dozen times, she CAN do it and that the failure and hard work is totally worth it.

Photo Credit: Christopher Vanderyajt

Don't get me wrong. I'm not expecting her to become a professional mountain biker. She's 9, and she loves lots of things like theater, dance, music, writing, and more. If this passion fades away, I don't mind. If this is a fun hobby she enjoys when she can, that's cool. What I love is that she tried something new... something that I think was harder than she expected... and walked away saying "If I work at this, I can get better. I want to do that." 

Photo Credit: Christopher Vanderyajt

Or maybe, I have a little adrenaline junkie in the making and this will be a passion for years to come.

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