by Mel Blackwood @troubleon8wheels
Roller skating? At your age? What will you do if you hurt yourself?
My mum was shocked. as were my co-workers, husband at the time, and in fact, everyone I mentioned it to.
I want to interrogate our beliefs as a society about why we think adults should not play? It's important for our self-care that we feel good. If we feel good, we have more capacity to be patient, kind and compassionate to others who may need us, or to simply ripple on the waves of joy through small interactions. Taking time out of our day for self-care is fundamentally important, yet it is often viewed as selfish. I was told this very thing - that wanting to roller skate was selfish and I should think of my family first. It's taken a long time to unlearn that, but I certainly feel that the selfish vs self-care belief is not helpful.
As I mentioned earlier this week, I went along with shaking knees to my first session, and absolutely loved it. I think this was unexpected - I had told myself that I went through 'phases' of hobbies. My (ex) husband said I wouldn't stick with roller skating, and therefore shouldn't buy all the very expensive gear straight away. I agreed to attend sessions for a month and then invest. What I realise now, is that I simply hadn't found the right activity for my personality and habits. I have always enjoyed movement and being active, but find the repetition of the gym a little soul-less. Roller skating though! It felt like a secret superpower that not many people could do. Even though I didn't feel like I was particularly good at the time, I was having a go, with the limited time I had free. Plus, I made new skate pals! Yay!
As time went on, I became more obsessed with roller skating, not less. I took my son to the local roller disco every week, and taught him to roller skate. I quickly realised that his journey would not be the same as mine, and let him get on with skating as he wanted to. Of course, he picked things up very quickly, played around with balance and co-ordination, and retained the muscle memory. He is now 17 and a still proficient skater, though he doesn't skate regularly anymore.
It's over a decade since I started roller skating, yet I still regularly hear (in my shop)
"Isn't roller skating for kids?"
"I used to do that when I was a child"
"Ahhhh, that brings back such lovely memories when I was young and I skated."
"Ooooh, I wouldn't do it now, I'm too old"
I chuckle inwardly when I hear sentences like this in the shop - we barely sell skates for children. Our customers are 95% adults, who love roller skating, and pursue this activity because they have found the benefits outweigh the risk.
As for hurting myself? Yes of course I am going to fall. Roller skating is not risk free. When I was at the very beginning, I wore all the protective gear possible. I don't now, as I don't challenge myself in the same way, nor am I playing a full contact sport. I have also twisted my ankle slipping off a kerb, cut my finger with paper, and hurt my back lifting weights incorrectly. So yes, roller skating is dangerous, but not more dangerous than other activities, in my opinion.
Roller skating changed my life. Could it change yours too?
P.S. Did you know I have been live streaming these blog posts on YouTube each day?
Head over to Roller Girl Gang on YouTube to listen to my rambling, if you prefer to listen.