Last year around this time, after failing to master the technique of standing up on a wakeboard, I attempted to water ski at my boyfriend’s family’s “camp” in Maine. After a couple failed attempts at getting my body out of the water and gliding on the skis, I decided I’d try one more time. While the boat was pulling me, I managed to inhale a bunch of lake water, fall on my face, and lose my skis along with my will to try again. I climbed into the boat gasping for breath and coughing so hard my eyes were watering. I shrugged my shoulders and decided “Hey, maybe water skiing isn’t for me.”

But this year, thinking back to all that lake water in my lungs and the days I spent with a sore throat and bad cough, I decided that I was using that experience as an excuse. Trying (and mastering) something new is always such an exhilarating feeling, and as someone who is always looking for ways to make the most out of life… I enjoy the occasional new experience (i.e. jumping off 12 foot rocks, learning to Line Dance, signing up for a half marathon, hiking tall mountains, etc.). So even though I had convinced myself that I had failed and that I would never water ski, I decided, with much hesitation and immense amounts of nerves, that I would try it out. (I was also getting restless since it’s been many months since the Winter ski season).

So a couple weeks ago I tried again. This time, I watched youtube videos on the proper techniques, practiced standing up in Kyle’s family’s kitchen with a dish towel as the tow rope, and vowed to keep my mouth CLOSED when the water was rushing into my face at the start. After about 7 or 8 tries where I nearly stood up, my legs were throbbing, and I decided I would try again another day.

That day came this weekend. Ever since those near successes (and probably about 15 total falls), I had been envisioning in my head what I would do right this time. I thought about keeping my arms out straight, letting the boat pull me up, and trusting that I wouldn’t face plant. The night before I was going to try again, I dreamed that I popped right up on the skis and experienced how awesome it was to ski in the summer time!

Getting into the water skis, I have to admit I was pretty nervous. But as soon as I put on the life jacket and felt secure in the embrace of the vest, I knew I was ready. I floated in the water with my ski tips up, the rope between them, getting towed slowly behind the boat. When I was ready I yelled “Hit it!” and Kyle’s Dad increased the speed of the boat. I was thinking “arms straight, knees bent” and before I knew it, I saw the houses around the lake ahead of me and I was gliding through the water. After a few falls (and sore shoulders and back), I figured out how to do some little turns and how to stay up when there were waves. My heart was racing from excitement. I was so proud that I didn’t give up.

The point of my little story is that you can’t let yourself get discouraged when trying new things. Sure, people who have been water skiing for a while made it look so easy. And this is true with so many things. However, you must go into new things knowing that you won’t get it the first time… or the second… and maybe not even the third. But with persistence and positivity, eventually you will get it. Allow yourself to try something new, even when its something you may have failed at before. The pain of falling on your butt is so worth it when you see yourself mastering a new art. Don’t be afraid of the bumps and bruises you may get along the way. Take the risk, and in the end, you will get so much more out of life.

I am so excited for many more summers of water skiing, and to get better and better at it. If I never got past that scary fall, I would have never got to experience what fun it can be! I encourage those reading this blog to really think about how to get the most out of your life. What excuses are you making for yourself? What experience are you missing out on because of fear or trepidation? What do you need to do to get past that fear? Try something new, and even if you don’t get it the first time, at least you can’t say you didn’t try.