I spent a lot of time thinking about whether or not I wanted to put the money into buying a pair of my own roller skates. I had never roller skated before, but it was 2020 and I was bored out of my mind during the pandemic, just itching for anything to do. I spent way too much time on Tik Tok during the summer of 2020 while everyone was still quarantining. One day, a video posted by Ana Octo showed up on my page. In the video, she’s roller skating down a sunny street to the song “Jenny from the block” by Jennifer Lopez. She looked like she was having the most fun in the world and I was hooked. I spent so much time looking through her entire page, but roller skates were so expensive and I didn’t want to spend the money on my own pair.
Almost a whole year later, in March of 2021, another roller skater showed up on my page. It was a video of Gabi Mattos giving an update on her progress in the 365 days of skate challenge. I had only spent a little bit of time thinking about roller skating over that past year and now I was spending hours going through and watching close to a year’s worth of videos of this person learning how to roller skate. This time around, the thought of roller skating wouldn’t leave me so easily. I made the decision to buy my own pair of Impala skates.
In the week it took for my skates to get delivered, I watched a multitude of instructional skating videos on YouTube. Specifically, I was watching videos from the Dirty School of Skate, and I still use those videos to this day. The day my skates got delivered, I ran out and grabbed the package, tore it open, and got the skates on my feet. I went outside and practiced transferring my weight over each of my toes, and soon enough, I found I was moving.
The first week, I skated outside everyday and my dad would sit in a lawn chair watching me, making worried sound effects each time I came close to falling (don’t worry dad, I have protective gear now). I was having so much fun with it and was practicing throughout the summer.
Once, I went to a roller rink with my best friend. I was having such a great time at the roller rink, being with my friend and rolling to the beat of the music. Over the summer I had taught myself a few tricks and was proudly trying them out that night. As the night continued, I started noticing there was another group of skaters. They were amazing – doing all sorts of tricks that I didn’t know how to do. All of the sudden, I went from being proud of my new skills to being embarrassed that I could only do three different things.
This was the start of a pattern I noticed in the following months of my skating journey. I was always so happy when I learned something new, but then I would go on social media and see people doing tricks I thought were way better than mine. Even worse, I would see people who started skating around the same time I did who seemed to be progressing much faster than I was. I started feeling like I was somehow a fake roller skater because I didn’t seem to have as much time to dedicate to practice and could only do a handful of tricks.
Over the past couple months, I had a more important realization: I have fun roller skating anyway. I’ve been rollerskating for almost a year now and I can only do about five tricks. I don’t have time to go skating everyday. In fact, I probably only skate a couple times a week if that. And I do something I don’t see in a lot of skating videos online — I fall a lot.
Just because I’m not a carbon copy of the skaters I see online doesn’t mean I’m not valid in loving roller skating. This is a hobby I choose to pursue, and do it in my own way. And it makes me happy.
This goes for any hobby you choose to pursue. Everyone needs to start somewhere, but it can be really discouraging to start when everything you see online seems to be the best thing you’ve ever seen. Getting into a cycle of comparing yourself to others can get in your way of going after something you really enjoy. Try your best to worry about having fun instead of being “good” (whatever that means). You are valid.
Laura Heffernan is a reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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