My Comfort Zone: Growing up in a small town in Cleveland, I was a typical outdoorsy kid. I loved to fish, mountain bike, hike, and explore the wilderness with my friends. The town is called Chagrin Falls, and it is as close to a bubble as one can get. This was all I knew growing up. I had never been to a big city, a surf town, or anywhere even remotely different from that small town with which I was so familiar. So, it came as quite a shock when my parents, seemingly out of nowhere, announced to me and my brother that our family would soon be moving to sunny San Diego. At first, I was ecstatic because I assumed San Diego was going to be the magical place it was made out to be in so many movies I had seen. However, when my family actually made the move to Southern California, I could not have felt more like a fish out of water.
A Big Change: After a couple of weeks in San Diego, I realized that this new city’s culture was drastically different than the culture in which I grew up. I was about to start class at my new elementary school, and I was terrified that I wouldn’t fit in. Everybody I had met so far seemed to be either a surfer, a skateboarder, or both. So, my parents suggested that I join a summer skateboarding camp. I was not too keen on the idea at first, since I had never stepped foot on a skateboard, and the summer camp was already halfway over. However, I wasn’t given much of a choice, and before I knew it, I was in the car with my mom on our way to sign me up for camp.
Anxiety Kicks In: By the time I linked up with the other campers, everybody seemed to know what they were doing. Some kids were practicing in the bowls, some were practicing dropping in, and some were watching a few of the counselors give a seemingly entertaining demo. I decided to try my luck at dropping into one of the quarter pipes. It didn’t go as I’d hoped, and I ended up on my back with an unshakeable feeling of embarrassment. In that moment, I knew that I would never skate again because I wouldn’t be able to handle the embarrassment of wiping out again.
One More Shot: While I was sitting at a picnic table, waiting for camp to be over, some kid slightly older than me walked over and asked if I wanted to try skating the bowls with him. I told him that it would be impossible for me, and that I was quitting skateboard camp anyways. For some reason, he kept persisting that he would be able to teach me to ride the bowls, and finally convinced me to join him. I walked over to one of the empty pools with him, and was immediately terrified by the seemingly vertical eight-foot drop (pictured here). I watched my new buddy roll around in the bowl for about ten minutes before I finally mustered the courage to give it a try. I started at the base of the pool, and began confidently pumping towards the daunting eight-foot wall, feeling like I finally had the hang of this skateboarding thing. However, my confidence was soon shot down as I ended up on my back again, with my skateboard crashing directly into my tailbone.
A Surprising Outcome: I laid there for a moment with my eyes closed, as I wanted to avoid the imminent ridicule as long as possible. However, when I opened my eyes, there were two kids holding their hands out to help me up. I couldn’t believe they weren’t laughing at me. Instead, they were giving me praise for being able to take such a hard fall, and getting back on my feet. For the first time all day, I finally felt like I did something right. Rather than ending the day sitting by myself at a picnic table, I ended the day by telling all the other campers about the brutal slam I had just taken. I instantly made a whole new group of friends, and couldn’t wait to get back to camp the next day.