Identifying as a Figure Skater did not immediately come to me. For months, maybe even the better part of a year, I “liked skating” or was “taking skating lessons.” I was not a figure skater in my mind. It was different than with other sports and activities I’d picked up over the years. I considered myself a volleyball player when I was playing in middle and high school. I was a diver even though my diving career was a short-lived two months. But it just took me a little more to “become” a figure skater.
It was physical. While crossovers are important, I did not feel like a figure skater while learning crossovers. I felt clunky and overly tensed up. I used to clench my toes HARD. I was frustrated because I understood crossovers in my head, but couldn’t make my body do them. Like many sports and activities, you need to practice to make progress. My crossovers started getting stronger, less toepicky, and actually generated some kind of power. Okay, we’re getting somewhere…
My posture played a major role in the physical aspect. I am 100% guilty of the desk job slump. I never danced growing up so I don’t have the ballerina thing going on. Guess what doesn’t help in skating? Bad posture. Once I understood how slumping over or bending too much at the waist affected whatever I was doing on the ice, I slowly moved out of my 9-5 laptop worker persona and into…kind of a figure skater? This is still a big work in progress for me. Why is slumping so easy?
Once I started learning a single toe loop, I started feeling like a figure skater. All the jumps I have learned so far have been challenging in their own ways, and I can still stand to improve each and every one of them in some way. But once I had jumps, PLURAL, in my repertoire, I felt like maybe I was in it for the long haul, and maybe, just maybe, I was then a figure skater.
It was mental. Chronic overthinker over here! Anytime I learned (okay, and learn…I still do this a bit) a new skill, my mind would immediately go into “oh my god how will I ever go that fast/jump/spin on one foot/fill in the blank here” mode. I had to internally talk myself into trying new things, realizing I wouldn’t be good at them right off the bat. Trying something new as an adult is tough. It takes a lot to commit time and energy to something, especially when you start from scratch. It’s so easy to just give up or not try at all. So I had to change my mindset and be open to slow progress.
What finally clicked for me mentally was a shift from “how am I going to do this?” into “does it matter how I do this, how will I know until I try?” I gradually saw myself warming up to new challenges and not clinging to my comfort zone. I’m far from fearless but I’m moving closer to a Figure Skater Mindset.
I’ve also found myself thinking about skating when I’m commuting, at work, getting ready for bed, watching TV. Low key obsessed, alright? I’m thinking about when I can skate next (man, does having a fulltime job get in the way of my skating lol), how I can improve insert skill here, how awesome it was when I did insert skill here, etc.
It was material. First things first, I got ~real~ figure skates a few months into my skating journey. This was painful at first but great for ankle support and actually learning and executing skills. I swapped the winter coat I started skating in for activewear jackets I already had. I am a huge activewear junkie so of course I had to buy some new stuff for skating too. Skating is bad for my wallet!! I did score some Black Friday deals on skating leggings and have slowly filled a drawer with my skating wardrobe. This included an outfit for testing, which was absolutely new to me. I did a lot of online window shopping to find a leotard and wrap skirt combo I felt comfortable in. And of course, once my skating obsession became known to my friends and family, birthdays and Christmas gifts turned into anything skating related. I know I don’t NEED some of this stuff but I like to treat myself every once in a while.
It was part of my growing up. I mean my growing up into an “adult.” Not quite sure I am a tried and true real adult yet (does anyone ever?), but skating helped me find who I am. I think I suffered from a mild quarter life crisis, wondering who I was and what I was doing with my life. I tried a few things here and there but nothing resonated with me like skating does (okay except maybe indoor cycling.) Then skating became part of my life. While some days I don’t know what the hell I’m doing, I know at the very least, I am a figure skater.