6 Life Lessons From A Competitive Figure Skater

Words by Misha Fabian

Photos by Joshua Go and other sources

© Isaac De Leon

“Ang init init!” is what you would most likely hear walking around the streets of the Philippines. In a place where the sun scorches the pavements and the heat index hits the thirties mark, ice and snow are nowhere to be found. The practice of winter sports seem but a concept, reserved for countries that actually have winter. Yet, there exists a small community of figure skaters in the Philippines who are bound together by their love and passion for the sport. I am one of them.

My first love is ice skating- the feel of the wind whipping past my face as I glide around the rink, the soft crunch of the ice underneath my blades with every move, the adrenaline I feel in the midst of executing a jump or a spin- it’s incomparable. Nearly half of my life was spent on the ice, training at least four days a week. I was actively ice skating for a huge chunk of my definitive years and I think, like many other kids who grew up doing sports, my sport has played a big role in shaping who I am today. Here are some of my favorite life lessons from the sport I hold closest to my heart:

© Aitor Alcalde (The Guardian)

You will fall. Multiple times. You just have to get back up.

In training for virtually any sport, you will have off days. It’s inevitable. In ice skating, the quote “Fall seven times, stand up eight” comes quite literally because we hit the ice multiple times per training session and in order to get it right, we have to pick ourselves up, dust off, and try again. In competitions, you’re not allowed to stop after a fall because that would be added deductions on top of the deduction you already received for falling. The best you can do is to get up again and continue skating as if nothing happened. If you stay down, you will never be able to get to where you need to go. 

There will always be someone better than you…

Admittedly, this one was the most painful one to learn. Comparing ourselves to other people never turns out pretty. It almost always leads to one of two potential outcomes: the first being you perceiving yourself as “better” and thus putting yourself on a pedestal while looking down on the other person and the second being you feeling more inferior and downgrading yourself when you see the other person as “better”. In ice skating, distinctions are a little more pronounced than usual because the athletes are actually ranked after a competition, and you don’t always come out on top. It may sound harsh but it’s true- there will always be someone more popular, more talented, more skilled, more attractive, etc. than you are. The best way to go about this is to acknowledge what your own assets are and work on sharpening yourself and chalk everything that comes your way up to experience.

© Isaac De Leon

… But that does not mean that you’re any less of a person…

While it’s true that there are people who may be better in certain areas of life, that does not discount what you have. Every person has their own strengths and weaknesses and I think it’s important to acknowledge that everyone is on their own journey.  I personally believe that every person is gifted in a certain way- whether it be through sports or arts or something we often overlook as a gift like talking to other people- we all have our own niches. It is important to find what that is and cultivate it.

© Isaac De Leon

… It just means you just have to strive to be the very best version of yourself

Acknowledging what you’re weak at does not make you weak. I personally think it brings you a step closer to getting stronger because you finally get to see what areas you can work on to be better. My coach always said that it is important to keep in mind that learning should never stop and there will always be a way to make things better- both on and off the ice. He said that it applies to being an athlete and to how you live your life out as a normal person. You could always do with doing a little more, being a little more, giving a little more. There is no such thing as too much growth.

You can never be 100% sure about any outcome

No one is ever absolutely certain about anything. One of my older coaches had a favorite saying: “Madulas ang yelo.” He meant that out on the ice, anything can happen. You can prepare all you want and train as hard as you can but there’s still a possibility of you falling. The best you can do is to give it your 100%. 

© GMA News

Drink in everything around you and make the most out of every opportunity

Ice skating has taken me to many places. It has also allowed me to meet many people that I think, without the sport, I wouldn’t have otherwise. My mother always taught me to approach each new day as the last day to get to do what I love- and true enough because of this, the experience of skating is always fresh. This sort of mindset allows me to also take in all the new things I get to experience because I never know when I might get to experience them again. Because of this, I get to appreciate my sport and my experiences more.

What did you learn from your sport? Let us know!


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