When I was a kid, like 8-10, I was spoiled by learning to ski out west in Breckenridge, Colorado. While my parents were off skiing during the day, my sister and I were enrolled in ski school, which I loved. You got to make new friends, the teachers were all super cool, and there were levels you advanced through as you progressed as a skier, so you weren't assigned to a group based on age, but rather skill.
At one point during the week, your ski school group would go through a race course, and everyone would be awarded ribbons based on their time. I always looked forward to this, and usually did fairly well, but there was one year I remember distinctly.
I remember flying down the hill, coming close to wiping out a few times, but catching my balance at the last second and sailing through the flags. When I came to a stop at the bottom of the hill, one of the boys in my group looked at me, "Whoa," he said. "Were you even in control?"
I came in first place.
And I was thrilled, not just because I had won, or had beaten the boys in my group, but because of that question were you even in control? Because I wasn't really. If I had leaned one more degree, picked up just a little more speed, taken a turn too early or too late, or thought about it too much, I would have fallen hard. Mostly, I was lucky.
But, I wasn't afraid of falling. I wanted to win.
In just a few years I'd become a painfully shy middle schooler afraid of talking to people, then a frustrated high schooler, and eventually a college student who thought she had life figured out as most 19 year olds do, only to be thrown for a loop when the realization of knowing nothing came crashing down. While all typical, and most certainly contributing to the process of growing, those iterations of myself were a far cry from the fearless girl who had confidently thrown herself over the side of a mountain as fast as she could to win a race.
I've been thinking about that girl a lot lately. I feel like I'm finally starting to come back to her. Not that I want to give people the impression that I am out of control. Just that I am most definitely not afraid of wiping out.