by Mel Blackwood @troubleon8wheels
Most people assume that I am younger than I am.
I find that in order to be taken seriously, I need to prove my experience. So I drop into conversation that
I am a woman in her 40s
have a 17-year-old son
have 20 years teaching experience
I can see the cogs turning in people's heads as they try to work out how old I must be.
This can be difficult for them because it challenges their beliefs:
roller skating is only for children or younger people
by extension, taking risks is for younger people. Adults with responsibilities cannot possibly take risks.
that I look younger than I am, how is this possible - it's possible because I inherited Chinese oily skin. I had terrible skin as a teenager and hated my appearance. Now I have made my peace with my body and skin!
The other assumption people make is running a roller skating business must be really easy, after all I simply skate all day and look cute. No one actually says this out loud. It's more that the truth of what I do all day surprises people when they ask a question. Running a business is one of the toughest things I've ever done. As the business grows and there is more responsibility there are new challenges. At first it was getting hold of skates, then it was developing better systems to cope with the demand for orders. More orders meant the need for staff to support me. And we still have ongoing challenges of a cost of living crisis. There is very little time left for skating for myself and looking cute!
What I have learned about myself is that I like to break the mould. I'm ready to be different and brave (when I compare what I do now to myself a decade ago). I also like to remind the women who attend RGG beginner classes and workshops that they are an inspiration to other people in their lives. They look at me as though I'm being sarcastic. I'm not. There will be people in your life, wishing they had the courage to get started. You have overcome the voice that makes excuses and encourages you to play it safe and shown up anyway.
I'd love to change the world view enough that it is expected that adults continue to play.
Are you breaking the current stereotype?