I had always dreamt of becoming a world-class figure skater. In spite of judges, “friends” and nerves I practiced daily for ten years. I always knew there were many skaters better than me, but it never stopped me from working and dreaming. When I was eight, I began getting up at four thirty in the morning to practice; by the time I was ten I was working harder than anyone on the practice sessions. I just wanted to go out and skate, because it was fun and I wanted to be good. I was never able to be the “tough competitor” or even one who could just ignore people’s words, maybe… that would have made all the difference.
It came to the point where I would do anything to avoid judges. The last time I skated in front of the judges was for a test. Once I finished skating, everyone (including myself and my coach) believed I had passed…but I hadn’t. Judges didn’t even sit down expecting to pass me anymore. One comment made was I should look more confident – it’s really hard to be confident when you’ve failed over and over at the thing you love most… failed so often it’s not fun anymore. Although skating wasn’t all bad, over the years my self-esteem deteriorated. Once I loved to skate… now I don’t. I see myself not as a failure, but as someone who banged her head against a brick wall too many times. All figure skaters fall down a lot, I never cried, I didn’t mind. I didn’t and won’t stop anything till I’m bleeding, because I don’t want to be known for quitting anything. As far as skating goes: I loved performing in shows, going on trips, and practicing was fun most of the time; but I couldn’t do it anymore. I learned a lot about dedication, respect, goal setting and concentration from skating. I don’t mean to be bitter toward the sport I grew up with and loved with a child’s blind love, maybe one day I will learn to love it with my eyes open.
*This is an essay I wrote in 1996, the same year I quit skating. Although the feelings toward skating are nearly forgotten, strangely the emotion seems a bit familiar to how I felt toward my failure in marriage as well.