It's the last night of 2021, and while this year hasn't panned out the way most of us thought, I have accomplished a pretty wild goal: I roller skated every day this year. The most common question I've gotten from people following my journey throughout the last 12 months is "why," and the answer's pretty straightforward —I wanted to get better at skating. And while my skating improved, so did my mental health and my opinion of myself.
From peace to pandemic
Let me start with some background. In early March of 2020, I was at Alabama's lovely Cheaha State Park attending HereNowYoga’s annual mindfulness retreat. This retreat kicked off my yoga teacher training with a group of 11 other students who I would come to know as my "sangha." During that retreat, we got word that the world was shutting down because of rising Covid-19 cases. I came back from a beautiful, peaceful experience of being sequestered away from daily life by choice to a world of obligatory isolation and uncertainty. And I knew my mental health would suffer if I didn't find channels to keep myself engaged and active. Enter roller skating. I'd done it as a casual hobby in middle school and again in my late twenties. Because I couldn't really do a lot of group activities during the pandemic, I decided to fully lean into skating.
Roller skating actually experienced a surge in popularity during the pandemic thanks to TikTok, but I get why! ! It’s a fun way to exercise, and it’s easy to do alone. I began following other skaters on social media and was inspired by those skating daily and the progress they were making. So as I began thinking about what I wanted to accomplish in the next year, I decided I wanted to try skating every day for a whole year and document it on Instagram. That was the only New Year’s goal I made for 2021.
I could probably talk your ear off about the endless fun experiences I had during my 2021 skating adventure. I've tried several unofficial skate spots here in Birmingham like parking lots, parking decks, and just parks. I’ve taken my skates on a plane to keep up with the challenge while traveling. I visited skate parks in Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, and Tennessee. If you ever want to have coffee or a drink with me, I'll tell you all the details. But if you know me well, you probably know I try to boil big experiences in my life down to the lessons I learned from them. So more important than the little details are the big lessons. Here are my top three takes.
Progress is progress.
Don't beat yourself up if the steps you take to you accomplish your goal aren't exactly what you thought they'd be. When I set my goal, I told myself I'd skate at least 45 minutes every day. But some days, I was just too effin' tired. There were many evenings after a long workday that I skated for only 10 minutes. The first few of times I did, I felt like a fraud — was I really putting forth my best effort if I didn't skate for the amount of time I'd planned? But anytime I had those thoughts, I'd tell myself that I was still spending time on wheels. Wasn't that ultimately my intention? Progress is progress, my friend.
You can see it through.
I've started so many things in my life that I just haven't finished — books, craft projects, and a short-lived candle making phase, just to name a few. When I set the goal to skate every day of 2021, I had a little nagging voice in the back of my mind telling me that I'd eventually give up just like I've done on many other plans. Even when I hit the 6 month mark, I had doubts that I'd get to a full year. You know what, though? My inner cheerleader and advocate was louder than the little buzz of doubt in the back of my mind. Or maybe I've just learned to hear her better.
Choose what brings you joy when you can.
If you genuinely enjoy doing what you're doing, it won't feel like a task. When I decided to try running a few years ago, I held out for a while. Finally, I had to admit that I just didn't like running (and I probably still don't, but I'll let you know in 2022 after I give it one more shot). Every time I'd lace up my shoes to run, it felt like a chore, and it's because running didn't truly make me happy. I know we can't only do what makes us happy all the time, but when we get to, it sure doesn't feel like hard work.
For those of you who have been following my 2021 skate journey on social media, thanks for your encouragement and kind words. Sure, I have an inner cheerleader, but I know I also have a supportive community around me. I hope that if you set a goal for yourself in 2022, you achieve it. And even if you're not the New Year's goal-setting type, I hope you get to have some incredible experiences. Happy New Year, my friends!