• Emily McDonnell

#15: Rollerblading, baby

How my stubbornness helped me overcome my fear.


I have spent countless summers strolling around Templehofer Feld - the former Berlin Airport, given a new lease of life as a community park - watching people whizz past me on rollerblades.


When I started this Weekly Adventure project, I instinctively knew getting back in a pair of blades would be one of my adventures. But I was terrified to do so. The last time I’d worn some was at the tender (and - more importantly - fear-free) age of 13, when I used to skate around my parent’s living room, chasing my brother between chairs.


People had told me getting back into rollerblades would be as easy as getting back on a bike. I had to strongly disagree. Why? The last time someone told me that something from my teenage years would come back to me instinctively was when I went skiing three years ago. And how did that end? With my having knee surgery as not one but two ligaments (both my ACL and MCL) had snapped during an oh-so-unimpressible tumble within my first 10 minutes on the slope.


Trusting my muscle memory seemed like a bad idea, especially considering that inline skating relied heavily on the strength of my knees. But, perhaps stubbornly, I decided I could do this, and started sharing my desire to get back on the horse, so to speak.


My wonderful friend, Amy, called me excitedly: “I’ve found a pair of inline skates in a zu verschenken [free to take] box nearby apartment. They’re your size! Shall I get them for you?” The universe, it seemed, had spoken. (These are the rollerblades featured in the photo).


Now, a word of advice… if you are nervous about something, using kit that is clearly past its best is not a good idea, even when the logic is try the activity, decide if you like it, then invest in some good equipment.


I waddled from the car to the edge of Templehofer Feld, very rollerblade competent boyfriend in tow, asking what I needed to do to get good, and not feel like I was going to do the splits, snap my knees or fall on my face. He looked puzzled and offered up “just go faster?”. I guess it’s hard to explain something that is second nature to you.


I crept, like a snail, bit by bit around the 5km circumference of the park, giving up when my ankle started throbbing. Rupert dropped behind me, and laughed: “Ok, so I think the skates are pretty broken - the wheels on the right foot are at a weird angle.”


So, I was at a crossroads. Invest in some new rollerblades, or just scratch the activity off the list. The latter was less scary, but I am more stubborn. I got new blades.


Even with my shiny new wheels, I’m still slow and l still need help, but I love it. I took the jump and did something I was excited and scared to do. I get nervous butterflies every time I put my rollerblades on and push off tentatively, but going just one step (skate) at a time, moving at my own pace, I know I’ll be ok.


What thing that you’re theoretically excited about have you been avoiding doing because you’re scared? I’d love to know!


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