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How to remove the training wheels

No matter how happy or sad we are, we all have that idea of the person we wish we were, but are not. Maybe a thinner version of yourself? One who would start working on their assignments more than two hours before the deadline? Maybe your ideal twin would travel the world? Stop overthinking everything about their relationships, or just clean their room more often?

Most of the time, you’ll have to admit it, you already know what to do to become that person. Just – fucking – do it. Stop eating cake all day, stop procrastinating, go to the gym. Easy to say, I know.

Many years ago (but not that many, to be perfectly honest), I was a child wishing to be this other child who knew how to ride a bike without training wheels. How to become this other (better) child? Nothing easier: just remove these wheels and go. Just do it. Just stop being scared, just stop overthinking it. Just go. But I didn’t want to. I was going to fall, for sure. It was going to hurt, obviously. I was fed up with those scabs on my knees. I was ashamed because my friend Ann could already ride without training wheels. I was scared of being ashamed; and ashamed of being scared.

I never learnt. For many years, I had been that girl pretending I didn’t like to cycle that much. Didn’t like it, didn’t want to, had a super nice book to read – just go without me. And one day it hit me straight in the face; I remember that abandonment, I still feel it in my face. All those lovely days, all those sunny rides I had been missing. All those private jokes I couldn’t understand because I wasn’t there. I was determined to learn, but I had no idea how to achieve that. Then one day, one of my cousins, eight years older than me, who had no idea I didn’t know how to ride a bike, asked me if I wanted to go with him. I was around twelve and (of course) I had a massive crush on him: he had perfect blonde hair and was more mature than all the other boys I knew. I said yes with heart-shaped eyes before my mind had time to say ‘Wait. Fuck – you can’t actually do that’. Before I understood what was happening, I was on the seat, right food on the pedal, left foot on the ground, and so scared I felt my heart beating from the tip of my hair to my toenails. I remember that my little sister gave me that look – worried beyond belief. She didn’t say anything but probably knew it all: I was in big trouble. I suddenly remembered one piece of advice from a movie, or a dream, or a book, or anything: ride as fast as you can. Not sure it was a good advice: maybe I had even made it up. I think I fell once, but I told my cousin there was a thing on the road, and it went fine. I am not sure I had ever felt so scared before, but it was also a relief. I thought “Really? All those fretful years for that?” I felt ridiculous, relieved and actually pretty great. I could feel the air toying with my hair, the tears beading in my eyes – just so they weren’t too dry, the fresh wind engulfing me in a very hot summer day. My heartbeat, so loud, as if it was trying to recreate the sound of my steps if I had been walking instead. I fell in love with speed and going fast.

Ten years later, I am finally able to rationalise my fears… haha, nope, just kidding. If I was an animal, I would be the most yellow-livered chicken in the coop, the weak one which looks kind of sick and lost. I remember how the same story happened again with motorcycles (ultimate fear – too ashamed to admit it – try anyway – love it) and many other things. A weird mixture of fear and excitement. A weird mixture of fear and excitement. Just the awareness that I had defeated a phobia was incredible, stirring. There is nothing like the feeling that you just overcame one of your greatest fears.

Just. Fucking. Do it. It’s worth it.

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