I went skiing for the first time in 15 years last month. It was horrifying and exhilarating and challenging. It didn’t start out so great, though. My ski fell off as soon as I got off the lift – and by got off the lift I mean when I fell and laughed with my sister until tears filled our eyes.
After being rescued by my boyfriend who has much more ski experience and knowledge than I do, my bindings were adjusted, and my skis were attached to my feet. I snow plowed, or “pizzaed,” as the kiddos call it, all the way down the hill on my first run. I smiled with satisfaction when I made it to the bottom without falling, even if I did so with far less grace than the three-year-old who blew past me with ease. And by the end of the day, I was speeding down the mountain, making turns and surprising myself.
I’ve had a lot of firsts, this year.
I was single for the first time in nearly seven years.
I followed that with my first date in nearly seven years.
I lived alone for the first time in my life.
And for the first time in a long time, I started betting on myself because, why the hell not, right?
I essentially started over after my relationship ended in December of 2015. When a long-term relationship ends, you sort of watch your life break down into the pieces you get to keep and the pieces you have to let go. I loved so many of the pieces that I let go, but I love the pieces I got to keep even more – the most important of those being myself.
Things were hard for a while. Lonely.
Between the support of friends and family, the company of my dog Maggie, the love ballads of Taylor Swift and lots of journaling – seriously lots and lots and lots of it – things stopped being so hard. I stopped feeling lonely.
I learned how to be alone with myself and be comfortable. I figured out how to be ok with the silence, with the meals for one. Eventually, I grew to love living alone. I always know where everything is. No one ever messes with my Netflix lineup. It’s my space and I can do what I like with it…and by that, I mostly mean spending far too much time playing hide and seek with Maggie, who has a lovely sense of humor for a dog.
That first date sure was something, though. I can’t think of a redeeming moment, really. I met the guy on one of the social media dating apps. He was not what I thought he would be at all. I think he felt the same way about me. I can’t even say that we clicked as friends. The conversation we had online did not translate into dinner – at all. But I made it through in one piece and I got it out of the way. And eventually, I went on a first date that did go well, really well, keeper well.
I would never have done any of those scary firsts if I hadn’t have had the courage to start betting on myself. I bet that I would be ok on my own and I was right. That very first, very big bet started me on a new path. I started focusing on strengthening the relationships that matter most to me. I made my health a priority. I recently celebrated a year of consistent gym-going habits. I eat foods that nourish my body. I went to therapy for a while to sort some things out. I started volunteering because it made me feel good. I started trying new things.
Every single one of those firsts and news were horrifying and exhilarating and challenging. And yeah, sometimes I pizzaed, but at the end of the day, I always found myself smiling with satisfaction – even if I didn’t tackle the task at hand with as much grace as the person next to me. I continue to make turns and surprise myself.
I’m so proud of that scared girl who bet on herself time and time again last year. I don’t know her anymore, but I owe her a lot.
My advice? Go full pizza. Don’t be afraid to take the big risks. Always bet on yourself. You’ll be surprised at what you can do.