By: Jessie Diggins
Every once in a while, I think it’s important to push out of my comfort zone and try something new. Something scary. Something that will potentially push my heart rate to zone 4 from anxiety. (Kidding….sort of). And the past few days I’ve been amazed at the range of things that can challenge me – from being one of the new kids on the team worried about fitting in, to learning a new sport.
Yesterday I went for my second-ever mountain bike ride! I was super nervous since the only other real mountain biking I’ve ever done was an epic failure for me – within 5 minutes I had hit a tree, had blood dripping off my hand, and was ready to go home except I had another 2.5 hours of riding to get down to the cars. ICK. But I decided that, dang it, I really need to learn how to get coordinated and MAN UP a little. So I joined the group ride, and although I was downright horrible when we started, by the end I was gaining confidence and was actually enjoying myself! Of course, true to my typical workout schedule, I took a few crashes, but this time I won’t have scars to tell the story (thank goodness). It also helped that Matt, Liz and the rest of the team were super encouraging and patient, and never made me feel dumb for asking things like “which brake should I use - front or back”? It’s always awesome to have good teammates and coaches that create an environment where you feel safe to branch out and try new things. So I can honestly say that I am looking forward to the next ride, and maybe I’ll even try to go over a jump – who knows?
But the biggest challenge I’ve faced this week? Simply facing my first day on the US Ski Team and being the new kid. Not that being the youngest on the team is ever a problem – in fact, it’s pretty sweet having all the older athletes to look up to. I have a lot of mentors and big sister substitutes, and I don’t think they even know how much I look to them for guidance. However, my first official day on the US team was super scary for me because I wasn’t sure I was going to fit in. I forgot my boots, and ended up classic skiing in skate boots, and had trouble keeping up with the group at level 1!
That little voice in my head that says “You Can’t” was super loud and I was pretty certain the other athletes weren’t going to like me. But then I had to stop and think, “What if they DO?” I’m pretty much always optimistic (to a fault, even) but I think that it’s important to always view the glass as half full. You never know what’s going to happen, and here I was shutting myself down before the workout was half over. So I started thinking positive thoughts, even if they were just words (I started listing every synonym for “happy” that I could think of) and after a few minutes I felt better and was able to open up more. Because all the girls on this team are totally AWESOME (and the guys too)! They’re passionate, hard workers but also normal people with hobbies, music preferences, favorite tv shows, goals and dreams. And I’m excited to get to know them better!
So if there’s one thing I’ve learned this camp that I really want to take home with me, it’s to always look on the positive side, keep asking “what if things DO turn out right?” and remember to stay open to new things.