Growing up, I had three brothers who played hockey. My mom cheered them on from the stands, my dad was the assistant coach and I felt as though our family embodied Canadian stereotypes as we wore hockey jerseys and spent entire weekends in crowded arenas.
As a child, and probably as a result of wanting to follow family tradition, I also attempted to develop a passion for sports on ice. I tried hockey, then figure skating. I hated both, probably because I wasn’t very good at it. My dad tried many times to teach me how to skate, but, in the end, I simply gave up.
Last weekend though, my roommate and I had nothing to do one evening. He told me there was public skating happening at the community centre near our place. For some reason, my gut feeling told me to go for it. I joined him, thinking to myself, “Why the hell not?”
I hadn’t gone ice skating in over a decade and, based on previous memories, I was sure that I would hate it. To my surprise, I not only remembered how to skate but I also found myself enjoying it.
I went to bed that night feeling content and grateful for the experience. Since then, I’ve learned a few things.
When I first stepped onto the ice, I automatically assumed that I would hate it based on my previous experiences. However, what we liked to do when we were younger doesn’t have to dictate what we like to do when we’re older. People change and so can their interests. It’s never too late to try something again for the second time.
Remember what you liked as a child
One piece of advice I’ve been given in the past when I’ve felt disconnected from myself was, “Think of your childhood. What did you enjoy doing back then?” While it’s true that reflecting on our childhood and choosing activities that we enjoyed as children can bring us joy, it’s not the only way. In my case, all of my previous memories associated with skating involved me falling on my butt and crying on the ice. Now, I’m glad that my brain has processed one good experience about ice skating and filed it away in my long-term memory.
Trial and error
Sometimes, in order to figure out what we like, we have to experience things we dislike. But that means that we have to allow ourselves to try new things in the first place. We can keep doing the things we feel comfortable with and that way we avoid a lot of mistakes, but that’s not how we grow.
I’m writing this article because I think that some university students get caught up with school, work and extracurricular activities. I think that students have to deal with several stressors and they can sometimes be under the impression that they are stuck in a boring routine — a space where nothing interesting ever happens.
I think that most students could benefit from spending more time with themselves, for themselves. Students spend so much time making connections with others, but I think that some may forget to cultivate a healthy relationship with themselves.
So many of us, as young adult in our twenties, are looking for ways to connect with ourselves.
Maybe my story of ice skating is a silly example, but it was a vulnerable choice from my point of view. I’m glad that I allowed myself to do something a bit unexpected and the outcome turned out to be positive.
Do something out of the ordinary. Try a new hobby. Go ice skating. Keep exploring and keep growing.