Lessons on Mentality that Skateboarding Taught Me
In August 2016, I got my first longboard thinking I’d use it mostly for transport. At least that was the idea before I saw videos of longboard dancing and freestyle: a stylish variety of skateboarding which has its roots from boardwalking on surfboards. Then it took me two months to learn a simple cross-step, which is the same series of steps that surfers use to walk from one end of the surfboard to the other. I embarked on a journey that has now lasted for over a year.
I admit that occasionally I might fall, have my knees hurt the whole week, or that I might have gotten seven stitches from a skateboard hitting my face. Still, I keep telling myself it’s not the masochism that keeps me going with the sport - it’s all the lessons and mentality I’ve learned ever since I started skateboarding last year.
It’s very easy to look only at the physical side (both in terms of benefits and hazards) of skateboarding. While I’ve lost over 25 kg of excess weight, I wouldn’t credit that only to physical exercise. So, what exactly in skateboarding is important to me, so much so that I believe everyone should start today if possible?
It was sort of ironic that when I had gotten my seven stitches, I left the hospital by pushing on my skateboard again. It might sound careless or thoughtless to some, but I think it gives a small peek at the “never give up” attitude I’ve acquired. These days, I might fail at landing a trick for weeks and weeks, but the feeling of finally getting it and learning it puts a smile on my face. The sort of smile that turns some of the worst days into one of the best and the most memorable ones.
It’s impossible for anyone to be perfectly technical and stylish right from the get-go and land every new trick they set out to do on the first try. I know the best skaters failed thousands of times at things that look very easy to me now. I take failure for granted. I tolerate it, accept it and most importantly, I’m not afraid of it.
There isn’t really any other way to learn or practice other than by just skating and failing countless of times. By accepting that fact I learned to cope with failure: I took learning in a new, completely different way. Baby steps have been more effective for me (and really, anyone I know) than cramming everything into a large chunk of a few big tries. Putting my mind into one small aspect of a trick and then keeping at it for a while gives me a chance to forget about everything else that’s worrying me.
I used to give up very easily with tasks that I couldn’t instantly succeed in, and I think that is a problem a lot of people can relate to. Thanks to skateboarding, I learned that even if life can be tough most of the time, it’s better to push through, since the payoff will be worth it.
After the amount of failure that a skater goes through, landing a trick makes you feel like you can do anything in life you set out to do. Even if there was something that’s more difficult than skateboarding, succeeding makes you feel like a superhero (you are defying gravity after all).
You start taking some more risks, since you learn to not be as afraid as before. You get pushed out of your comfort zone and then get rewarded for it.
When I started to become adept at longboard dancing, people would very often come to me and ask what it was that I was doing, since they had never seen anything like it before. In an unexpected way that started to build my confidence to keep going and showcase the sport to them. As the summer went by, I noticed people giving genuine smiles and curiosity as they saw me dance. I was suddenly filled with positive energy by having an audience of sorts - strangers who enjoyed seeing what I put a lot of effort into.
I was once told by someone that they could never imagine me with a skateboard, yet some of the new friends I’ve met in the university can’t imagine me without one. While it’s unfortunate that some consider longboards as pretentious and people who ride them as posers (they apparently can’t do any “real” skateboard tricks), I’m skating only for the sake myself and my love towards skateboarding. It’s the piece of wood itself which has taught me that judgmental thinking isn’t worth my time.
Ever since “Roller Derby” in 1959 started to mass produce the world’s first skateboard, and ever since the first ollie was popped by Rodney Mullen in 1981, skateboarding has come a long road in a surprisingly short amount of time.
There are so many ways people skateboard nowadays. Some prefer the extremely high speeds and adrenaline rushes of downhill longboarding as they take down the Alps. Some people still love the old school Rodney Mullen type of freestyle skateboarding. Even regular skateboards have so much freedom in ways you can express yourself and do what you love: bowls, street, skate parks, and so on.
I love longboard dancing for its smooth, seemingly never-ending lines, flurries of pirouettes and carving that feels like I’m surfing on concrete. I find myself daydreaming about which moves would best work in a combination that expressed my specific style.
Plenty of innovation is still left to be found both within the varieties of skateboarding and coming up with new ones. I’ve even seen someone put steel wheels on a skateboard and then put the skateboard on tram tracks. There’s something that suits everybody, and I’m always excited to think about the new paths that skateboarding will take in the future.
Take it easy
While I write a lot about improving yourself and your mentality, I think the most important lesson - one that applies especially to skateboarding - is to just have fun with it. I’ve caught myself going too serious about trying to learn a trick, and I had to remind myself to take it a little easier.
If you don’t have fun with what you’re doing, you lose the point of it all. Instead of enjoyment something becomes a tedious end goal that you’re pursuing for some toxic reason. So, I sometimes give myself a break and I don’t focus on learning a new trick. Instead, I simply cruise and do some simple steps while enjoying a beautiful park scenery with relaxing hip-hop.
In conclusion, I think skateboarding is a valuable sport. Every skater knows this, which is why they make up an amazing community. Ask almost anyone, and they’ll be sure to share their excitement about skateboarding and help you get started as well.
Though skateboarding may look intimidating, it becomes so much more than that: an important lesson, a way to steam off, have fun, and get exercise. Turns out, it’s also a decent icebreaker to meet new people at the university.
Cover image: sohu.com