Feeling the Fear

Okay, so I haven’t done much formal writing lately but the spirit of this blog is to push myself to share pieces of my work, no matter how ill-written or unstructured. Actually, publishing a monthly post was one of my goals for this year; in a New Years Eve–induced state of idealism I came up with three: the aforementioned, to start my own business, and to enter all my local snowboarding competitions.

So last weekend, when the Monster Energy BoarderStyle came to my local ski resort, and I really, really, really didn’t want to enter because the course looked absolutely terrifying—like, this is Monster’s definition of the event:

Boarderstyle:[also see: fast-freestyle] A hybrid boardercross, slopestyle, big air, obstacle course race where 4 riders run the gauntlet simultaneously. A step down jump awaits racers at the finish line. On this feature, it is mandatory to perform a full rotation trick (360 spin, flip, or greater).

In other words, all the hardest things about every snowboarding discipline combined. And like, pro snowboarders were coming to this event. No, thank you.

snowboard race
Credit: SilverStar

But I wanted to achieve my goals. Another thing on my mind was the last competition I’d entered; it hadn’t gone so well. I’d panicked under the pressure trying to land a trick I’d never done before but knew deep down that I was more than capable of doing. I’d gone home, ashamed and angry at myself. I let my mind let me down. It sucked. And so, I promised myself that next time I was in that situation, I would do the thing I was afraid of—because anything would be better than the embarrassment and disappointment. Next time, I would just do it.

So last weekend, when the choice came to enter or not, I felt I had to.

In the morning of the competition, my stomach churning from pre-emptive adrenaline, I nearly backed out—what if I choked again? What if I couldn’t even make it through the start gates?

I had a moment of clarity: the only way I would get through this day, and through this competition, was if I let some of that pressure go. I had to be okay with not doing it. I had to be okay with being too scared to do it and deciding to drop out last minute. I realised that the only thing I wanted out of this day was to be happy at the end of it—and that meant being happy with myself, right now.

I did my first inspection lap of the course without hitting any of the features; my heart in my throat as I stood beside the bigger jumps. There was no way I was doing any of that. Like, I probably was capable as a snowboarder, but they were so scary! I didn’t WANT to do it. I didn’t want to risk breaking my legs for it.

As I realised I was going to drop out, disappointment and anger immediately threatened to wash over me.

I didn’t let those feelings in, though, and instead focused on moving on. I focused on the other snowboarding I was going to do that day—it was a beautiful morning, after all, and I was in the mountains. I felt strong and healthy and I could spend my day breathing the fresh air and even doing some park laps. It was going to be a good day.

An hour or so later and I went to pick up my backpack from where I’d left it at the competition start gates. When I got there, I realised the qualifying runs were just beginning. They would be calling my name soon. It was now or never.

Well, you could still do it. What have you got to lose?

I was feeling good. I’d ridden some large jumps in the park just moments ago and I felt pretty confident.

Okay, why not?

I went up to the start gates where the girls in my field were starting to drop. I would be the last girl to go. As I watched the others fly over the first couple of features, I started feeling sick. Was this a mistake?

My turn was getting closer and closer.

And then I’m standing in the gate, as scared as I’ve ever been in my life. I’m sweating.

“We have Hannah in the gates, number 111.”

“I don’t know if I can do this,” I say to no one. Not like a, I don’t know if I can do this when this is speaking in front of an audience or going to the dentist. More like, I don’t know if my body is physically capable of snowboarding at high speeds over massive features right now because some of those things involve being 10+ feet in the air and I can’t feel any of my muscles and if I mess this next minute up I could seriously injure myself.

Everybody’s staring at me, waiting for me to perform. I know really that no one is judging, but in that moment it feels like the whole world’s watching me. 

“Send 111,” crackles the radio.

“Ok, you’re good to go.” My hands are holding tightly on to the start gate, ready to launch myself into the abyss. Is it too late to turn back?

“Can you hear me? Send 111.”

There was no choice, in the end. 

So I do. I go. I ride, not my best, I fall over. I take the easier, slower routes around a couple of the scarier features I can’t fathom riding. A minute and 30 seconds later I am at the final jump, I case it a little but ride away anyway. 

I see my friends at the bottom and as I ride up to them my legs can’t hold me up anymore and I collapse in the snow, shaking. I can’t tell if I want to laugh or cry. I do a weird mix of both as I release some tension. 

I did it. I did it. 

It’s OVER, I want to cry. I am so proud of myself. Proud of myself for doing it, but more importantly, proud of myself for not getting upset. For not being mean to myself. I am proud of myself for being proud of myself. It is a big step for me.

Categorised under: times I’ve nearly peed myself

It felt good to achieve one of my goals, but even better to change my mindset from, I’m a failure, to, all is well. Learning that was better than coming first. The top eight girls would go through to finals the following day, but I’d fallen in my run and I knew my time wouldn’t be good enough. It didn’t matter anyway; I was already more than happy, satisfied that I’d never have to do that again.

Later, I headed to the riders meeting for a debrief of the day. They read out the names of those who had qualified.

“And in eighth place… Hannah. See you tomorrow.”

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