The Real Life Tony Hawk

What is 3 feet tall, has 4 wheels and scares the shit out of me? A skateboard. Yes – a little recreational board that a lot of 3 year olds can ride.

I never owned a skateboard growing up and it’s obvious. My mom always thought they were too dangerous so she never allowed me to buy one. I had friends who would ride but I stuck to my bike; which is somehow safer? Maybe my mom was just scared of the skater image. I’m not complaining. I was happy enough to get my skateboarding jollies playing Tony Hawk.

The few times I have tried to skateboard have been short and near disastrous. I end up on my ass with a handfull of road rash from the cement. I have a hard time steadying myself and gaining balance. I played sports competitively for a significant portion of my life, but when I’m on a skateboard I’m like an elephant trying to balance on a needle. Not graceful.

Yesterday I came down the stairs and found my roomate’s skateboard staring at me. Mocking my fear. So I said “Fuck off skateboard, you’re hitting the streets.”

I headed outside and cautiously set the board on the ground. Go time. One foot at a time I stood on the board and began to slowly drift down the driveway. But as I neared the edge of the street my balance shifted right and off I went. I slowly stepped on again, pushed off, and then fell off.

Skateboard: 1, Derek: 0.

At that moment I had two options. Either give up or analyze why I suck and correct it. I chose the latter and decided that my problem was a) lack of speed to keep my balance and b) fear. So I literally said, “Screw it,” and pushed off hard. Away down the street I went.

Within five minutes I was doing something I never thought possible. I was riding a skateboard consistently, only intermittently falling off, and actually going somewhere. I tested my new sense of confidence and made it all the way to my bank in one piece. I even waved at a couple girls along the way.

Although this story is, I’ll admit, kind of sad, it does represent something great that is happening in my life. I’m actively questioning my fears and taking steps to overcome them.

Undoubtedly, in the next several months, I’m going to be facing a whole slew of new fears. I’m going to be leaving my job, starting a business, traveling, and writing about my experiences everyday. I look forward to the challenges but the real test is overcoming my fears.

What are you afraid of? Other than heroin, is there anything you’ve always wanted to try but have been too scared to do?

Go out and do it.

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Derek Johanson

The personal blog of Derek Johanson.

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