The unhelpful obstacle course of bad habits

I am nothing if not the sum of my bad habits. I procrastinate like it’s an Olympic sport, I dodge conflict and people who make me uncomfortable rather than face them head on, I stay up way past a reasonable adult bedtime, I eat like a garbage disposal, I drink entirely too hard and often, and my continued existence is brought to you by an utterly irresponsible dependency on coffee that’s as black as my sense of humor and just about as tasteless.

I do err on the side of being a little too self-destructive for someone whose peers are, like, three kids deep now. Is it a refusal to accept that I’m as old as my body and property taxes say I am? Is it laughing in the face of my own mortality? Is it a general proclivity for recklessness? Is it the ultimate manifestation of how my inability to say no to anything offering even a whiff of novelty is going to have serious long-term consequences one day? Or is it just one more bad habit that’s destined to become a hallmark of my personality? Dunno: All the money I should be spending on therapy is redirected to skating these days, so. That’s just one more mystery for the universe to sort out in due time.

Accumulated bad habits and a penchant for shrugging off my own eventual demise are, I’m pretty sure, such natural inclinations at this point that they’ve wormed their way into my skating life, where they are slightly less welcome barriers to the progress I am grasping at every time I lace up. I think I’ve known this for a while but I finally accepted it at yesterday’s lesson, because apparently Wednesday mornings are for existential crises on ice now.

First, though, lemme revel in my most recent tiny victory: My Wednesday lessons have been such a mixed bag for a solid month, so I am taking whatever win I can get there. And busting out the backward cross rolls that I have been practicing like a woman possessed and subsequently eliciting a genuine “Wow” from my coach absolutely eclipsed any frustration yesterday morning threw at me.

And I needed that confidence boost because, holy hell, three-turns are gonna be what kills me (right in time for the MITF Pre-Bronze test that is suuuuper dependent upon not sucking egregiously on them). Of my half-hour lesson, easily half of that time was dedicated to improving my tragic threes.

My three-turns absolutely need the help, and so do I. My free leg wants to extend like I’m preparing for a jump. I hate doing them from anything other than a standstill position. My toepick scratches hard when I’m changing feet. My LFI3 still feels like an unnatural thing to ask of my body. My free hip doesn’t always rise, my arms and core don’t always twist, my changing edges tend to grind. For such a rudimentary element that gets a TON of usage (not only in my forthcoming test but also others, plus LFOs and RFIs set up a number of jumps), something about threes is giving me such a tough time lately.

It is because I tend to fall into the lazy comfort of bad habits. It’s a fight to check my body post-turn just as it’s tricky to keep the myriad elements of every move all sorted out while also executing them well, or at least somewhat correctly. Then it’s a battle to maintain fluid motion when I can’t check so I come to a grinding, scratchy halt between each element in alternating threes and power threes. Then I get impatient and frustrated, and start worrying about whether or not I’ll master the waltz eight in time for my MITF test. It’s a wicked spiral of undermining my own progress by psyching myself out like a champ. And that's the downfall of being totally focused on what I'm doing when I'm skating: I get sucked in too deeply way too quickly, and it can get intense.

I’ve adapted to the bad habits that have dogged me for years so I guess I don’t really notice them as detriments to my ability to function as a for-reals adult. But these bad skating habits accumulated awfully quickly and their cumulative effect is too glaringly apparent to ignore, especially when I have three different instructors point them out to me throughout the week.

My logical and emotional brains are endlessly at odds, and this is no exception. Emotionally, I get myself so worked up over such a basic move that it just makes things worse; logically, I know that's just as useless of a response as practicing everything BUT the threes I've come to resent, which is definitely another lousy habit I need to fix sooner rather than later. Having to get to the root of my problems and deficiencies has been a much-needed examination of my personal flaws on a microcosmic scale, which I guess I should be comparing to the long-term consequences of cultivating and forgiving my more overall personality-influencing bad habits like they're harmless idiosyncrasies. 

The thing about bad habits is that they're crutches at best and hindrances at worst. They serve no effective purpose, especially when they're dragging down your ability to move past whatever hangup you're hanging onto. But when they're so intricately, deliberately woven into the fabric of you, they are a scary security blanket to give up. I'm learning that, at least in skating, I have to face my fears and move past them, otherwise I'll never get any farther than the artificial barriers I've walled myself behind—and I love this sport too much to submit to what scares me. I might fall and I might fall hard, but I can't let what only scares me in passing hold me back from finding out what it's like to fly as unfettered as I want to. 


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