My niece will be 10 in a few weeks. She learned how to skateboard at camp this past summer and liked it.
She just got her first skateboard.
After practicing a little with it on the hard, smooth floor of the basement in her house, yesterday she took it outside for the first time .
The driveway and street outside are not quite the smooth surface of a skateboard park. She tentatively tried it in the driveway to get her footing and then we went onto the street in front of her house.
She moved slowly at first, getting a feel for the bumpiness of the uneven pavement.
Slowly she worked up confidence to extend her skateboarding a little further down the block.
When she reached a point where she wanted to turn, or got stuck, she would pick up the skateboard and place it down again heading in the new direction.
She was doing it.
Not only that, but with a smile on her face and clear joy in the process.
At one point she said, more to herself than to anyone else,
I’m doing pretty good for someone who just got a skateboard.
It made me laugh, and then I realized the profound wisdom in what she said — and in her entire mindset and attitude toward her skateboarding.
Her self-affirmation was the kind of comment I don’t think I’ve ever said to or about my own efforts, even when doing something new and hard. As a child or as an adult.
My tendency defaults to more self-criticism and frustration.
I didn’t see her get frustrated or self-critical even once.
I never heard her say anything like “in camp I was much better but that was in a skate park.”
She had nothing to prove to anyone, including herself. And so she didn’t need to make excuses or blame the environment or live up to a standard she had previously set for herself.
She was doing her thing. A hard thing. And embracing her process.
Not just embracing, celebrating.
Living in the moment. Finding joy in being a beginner. Not expecting too much from herself on this first outing.
She did what she could do given the conditions of the environment — one that was, by far, not ideally suited for her activity.
Just a girl on her skateboard, encouraging herself with affirmations and celebration and enjoying the thrill at building confidence in a new skill.
I was taking care of her for the weekend, but in that moment she was my teacher. And I was taking notes.
cut yourself some slack
lower your expectations
accept where you are