Do you remember the first time you went skiing? The day you learnt how to walk in those giant moon boots, how to click said giant moon boots into those damn skis, how to snow plow and parallel and turn, how to glide off the ski lift without falling on your butt?
Well, chances are, you used to be one of those two-year-old kids flying down the mountain with no poles, weaving through larger, clumsier adults. So skiing comes as naturally to you as walking.
But this winter break, at the ripe old age of nineteen, I went skiing for the first time.
And it was terrifying.
I think it’s safe to say, when you’re first learning to ski, it’s very very very wise to take a lesson. And I’m no fool. I’d booked in a class on my first day at 11am. But alas, at 9am everyone was itching to ski, and my friends decided that it would be a wonderful idea to take me skiing first before the lesson.
“It’s the easiest run!” Gabby said.
“You’d have to be so uncoordinated to fall off the ski lift!” Jay said.
Listen here kids, listen close: do not, under any circumstance, let your friends take you skiing before you’ve learned from an instructor. You will fall. Many many times. And you will not understand how to get up. And the easiest run? It’s damn steep. Like, no-human-should-ever-slide-down-that-degree-of-steepness kind of steep.
Skiing was a sport that literally scared the crap out of me. Normally, I don’t realise I am in a dangerous situation on account of my inherently naive nature. But standing atop that snowy, white desert staring down the 35 degree angle I was expected to hurl my body down, I was so very terrifyingly aware of the inevitable death that awaited me at the bottom. Even as I figured out how to control myself and, you know, not pummel down the mountain in a straight line, I still could not help but be so, incredibly scared.
I think I’ve always been scared of being scared, which is why I almost never put myself in situations that warrant fear. But for the first time in forever, I was properly petrified. And I’m so so proud of myself for it.
See, doing new things? Scary. Doing new things that are already scary? TERRIFYING.
But doing scary new things even when your body is screaming for you not to?
STUPID, yes. But necessary. Once in a while, it’s necessary.
It’s strange to say that skiing wasn’t the ultimate highlight of my ski trip. I liked skiing, sure. And I’m glad I learnt how to do it (no matter how mediocre I was at it). But what I loved more was being at the snow with friends. Making new friends on the way, building snowmen, having snowball fights, sitting by the fire, walking around the village, cooking and eating meals together, admiring the view from the ski lift, watching the world cup at 5am, roadtrip music and conversations, late night chats in the bunk bed, drinking games, board games, hot chocolate and vanilla rooibos tea. It was lovely. I loved it.
I realise now that that’s why I love travelling so much. It’s not so much the travelling. It’s the who I’m travelling with. Mt. Buller isn’t far to travel, and we all traveled there for an activity that certainly enriched the experience, but people. People are great. People helped me get down that mountain. People laughed with me when I stacked it 20 metres and lost my poles and skis. People stroked my hair when I felt sick. People are the best, and I can’t help but realise that every time I got somewhere, I end up falling in love with people even more.