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Is the Fear of Criticism Crippling You? [PHOTOS, VIDEO]

I wore full hockey pads to learn to skate ramps and parks

One of the most important things to me is growth. I want to expand, advance and be a better person every day, week, month and year I am on this Earth. This desire to expand has me constantly learning something new. Learning something new always takes me outside my comfort zone. Sometimes, this activity has to take place in public. In those cases, I have to ask myself a question: “Would I rather look inept in public and learn something new, or not expose myself to potential embarrassment and not learn anything?” I always try to take the chance.

When I started playing ice hockey at 26 years old, I did so because my friends were on their way to play, and it sounded like fun. I had a pair of rusty skates and the rest of the equipment was borrowed. Needless to say, rust does not hold a very good edge and I fell, dare I say floundered, all over the ice. I could hear people laughing at me, but I learned a most basic thing–sharp skates work better. I had my skates sharpened and kept learning. Within a few weeks, I scored my first goal. To this day, it was worth enduring the laughter.

I first moved to Fort Collins in 2002. Before then, I had never lived in a town with a good skateboard park. As soon as I realized there was one in town, I went to have a skate. Because I had never done it before, I took some pretty righteous spills and didn’t go back. It wasn’t the criticism that stopped me, but the pain and legitimate fear of major injury. So, for years after that, I didn’t skate the parks. But I kept riding by the Northside Park on Poudre Trail thinking “That would be so fun!” One day, the proverbial light bulb turned on over my head. I realized that I could combine my love for hockey with skateboarding. Full hockey regalia makes one bulletproof, so I figured I could wear my gear long enough to get my skate legs under me. But wait…wouldn’t I look silly/crazy/out of place/all of the above? Yes. The answer was most certainly yes.

Then and there, I had to make a decision. Do I wear the pads I already own and learn a new activity thereby enriching my life, or not, because I would look silly? Easy decision for me, and since I made it, skating the parks all over Colorado has become one of my favorite things to do.

It is times like these that I fully realize what FDR meant in his most famous quotation, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself!”

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