A few weeks ago, my friends and I went ice skating, and I distinctly remember the pinch of fear when I finished lacing up my skates and took that first step toward the ice. I hadn’t been in a rink in a few years, and despite my experience with figure skating as a little girl, it was still nerve wracking to walk onto the ice. Amazingly enough, my legs soon found a familiar balance and skating reminded me a little bit like recalling how to ride a bike. However, I definitely didn’t feel comfortable enough to be speeding around the rink at the same pace of all the little kids around me. It was amazing to see all the six and seven year olds race each other when they literally have sharp knives strapped to their feet. Toddlers were skating right past me and twirling around each other like it was the most natural thing in the world. What struck me most was how fearless they were of falling. While many of us held onto the sides of the rink, when one little girl did trip, she only giggled and waved off her concerned father before racing off to catch up to her friends. For her, falling was simply an unavoidable part of the overall skating experience, but she wasn’t going to let it ruin her enjoyment.
Juxtaposing the kids’ fearlessness against the nervousness of adults and older kids like me demonstrated the stark contrast in our attitudes toward life. As we grow older, we slowly begin to recognize the repercussions that come with failure. We become afraid of stepping outside of comfort zones for fear of being embarrassed or of losing something we care about. While adults continually over analyze the “what-if’s” and “what could be’s,” kids don’t worry about the future in the same way. They boldly plunge into their endeavors and if they fall, they simply get right back up.
Growing older is inevitable, and failure during our lifetimes is even more unavoidable. And while the wisdom that comes with growing older is something to truly look forward to, remaining youthful lies in reminding yourself to be fearless despite the unavoidable disasters. Being young at heart is to look upon challenges as opportunities to grow and learn rather than as obstacles. In this way we can combine the knowledge that comes with age with the wide-eyed fortitude of youth in an effort to ensure that we remain bold and unafraid to dream but have the good sense to use our judgement when executing our ideas. Failing will always be a terrifying experience, but if we remain fearful of it, we will never truly experience the rush of joy that comes with getting back up and realizing you can still move forward.