I remember the very first time I ever got on a bicycle.
I was probably about seven years old and we lived in a village where all the kids used to come out and play in the afternoon and we’d all ride our bikes together, training wheels and all.
I have always been cautious by nature. I think I came out of the womb with a heightened sense of self-preservation. Even as a child, I was never one to take any risks. I was also quite conscious from an early stage of the things that were within my capabilities and those that weren’t.
Needless to say, basketball and other contact sports were not a big part of my formative years. Or anything that involved hand-eye coordination and stamina (I was a fat kid. Lol)
But I was quite happy with riding a bike. The training wheels were like my very own safety net. They ensured that I’d always find my balance, that I would never fall over and hurt myself. I was as happy and as carefree as it was possible to be, pushing pedal to the metal and going around the village without a care in the world.
Of course, the training wheels had to come off at some point.
I was petrified the first time I ever got on a “real” bike. My uncle had one hand on my seat as he instructed me to take my time and to take it slow. He promised he wouldn’t let go unless he was sure I could do it on my own, and that he’d never let go before I was ready.
I didn’t think I’d ever get to a point where I could convince myself I was ready. I went around the block a couple of times with my uncle supporting me the whole time. He must have been exhausted, but bless him, he believed me when I said I wasn’t ready for him to let go just yet.
Inevitably though, we reached that moment where I had to be pushed, where I had to break through the barriers of fear and just do it. It was a real sink or swim moment. My uncle let go, and I either had to find my balance and pedal or I fall and hurt myself.
Those first few solo rides were shaky, and I fell and scraped my knees too many times to count. But I got back on that bike and tried again until I was cycling around the village without a training wheel in sight.
I needed that final push.
Would I have been content to carry on riding a kid bike? Maybe. But it would only have taken me so far, and I would have missed out on the experience of being able to do something that I was initially fearful of.
Any new experience comes with fears and doubts, but that shouldn’t be a reason for missing out on them. I think continuously pushing and challenging yourself to do something you never thought you were capable of, especially if its something that scares the shit out of you, will only help you to grow as a person.
I have always been afraid of change. And these past couple of years I’ve attempted to make a big career change twice, and both times I backed out at the point of actually dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s.
I suppose part of that was because I always knew that it wasn’t the right time or the right move. But now the right opportunity has come, and it would be remiss of me not to take the chance just because I’m afraid or because I insist on clinging to the comfort of what’s familiar.
I never expected to have to feel this twice in one lifetime; they say once you learn how to ride a bike you’ll never forget how to do it. But at this moment, that is exactly how I feel. I feel like I’m about to learn how to ride a bike for the first time all over again.
The training wheels have come off. I’m as ready as I will ever be. I suppose the only thing left to do is hang tight and pedal.