About a year and a half ago I was preparing to come back to my blog after a difficult few months of trying to balance my health and university studies. It took so much of my energy to do the bare minimum back then that…
I may not have been snowboarding for long and I may not be very good, but riding has already changed my life in ways I didn’t think was possible. Of course, when I took it up my intention was that it would help me to turn my life around, but it still surprises me that in such a short space of time it has had such a profound effect.
Snowboarding has given me confidence. The confidence to push myself hard and take small risks to enjoy my life, the confidence to talk to new people, the confidence to no longer worry about looking stupid no matter how hilariously I fail. I’ve learnt that if you don’t put in 100% with no fear, you’ll never do your best or achieve your full potential.
It’s helped me to find healthy coping strategies for those late nights when there’s nobody around. When I’m anxious or when I’m starting to have suicidal urges that before I would’ve acted on, I can lock my door and just immerse myself watching edits, movies, documentaries and tutorials. I don’t have to think, I don’t have to feel. Obviously, it’s not always effective, but it definitely has saved me from crisis on multiple occasions.
When I’m on the snow, nothing matters anymore except for the feeling of descending the slope, having fun and trying to improve my technique. I can’t afford to get distracted because whenever I do, I fall, but I don’t get distracted about negative things anyway because I’m generally feeling too pumped up and concentrating hard.
That’s not to say I don’t have struggles while on the slope, of course. I have horrible anxiety about using the Poma lift because I’m still not good at catching it or staying balanced while being dragged up. I had a particularly hard fall that made me dissociate and possibly triggered an absence, I’m always a little concerned about possibly breaking my wrist as a violinist, and some days I just ride far better than others and it gets extremely frustrating. But even on bad days, everything from outside is left at the door of Xscape: all my problems, my past, everything.
Since I booked my very first lesson, I’ve always had something to look forward to. I was facing a long, lonely summer and now I don’t even care that I’m alone. (Not that I am anymore exactly, I’ve made some good friends through riding.) My whole life now revolves around my music and snowboarding. No matter how shit my day is, how bad my mental health is, snowboarding is basically giving me a reason to stay alive, and has reminded me what being happy and having fun feels like.
Of course, I can’t overlook that already, my physical health has improved significantly. One of my primary motivations for starting to snowboard was in the hope that a fun physical activity would not only help on its own but also serve as motivation to improve my health to the best it can be. Sure enough, my preparation period and my continued desire to become the best snowboarder I can be has made me more consistent with my diet, exercise, and taking care of my body. I’m fainting less than I was, I feel better than I did, I’m able to do more than I could and I’m getting stronger and fitter every week.
Taking up the sport was, without a doubt, one of the best decisions of my life. I love the sense of achievement I get when I learn something new, I love the happiness it brings, I love how alive it makes me feel and how much it’s helping me progress as a person.
Before I started snowboarding I had money, dignity, grace and my bedroom wasn’t perpetually decorated with soggy outdoor clothing hanging up to dry. Now I’m always damp, cold, bruised, aching, I make a fool of myself daily, and will probably be broke my whole life. But do I regret it? Absolutely not.
On Tuesday I walked 20km with no fainting, kept myself adequately fuelled, hydrated and fully enjoyed my time in the sun. This is a pretty big achievement when you consider that not so long ago, back when my health was so terrible that simply walking could be at times…