My daughter recently went ice skating for the first time. The instructors started the kids out with a cheer: “It’s okay to fall!” And boy did they. A few of the kids had skated before–one even plays ice hockey–and those glided around the rink, their skates glinting in the artificial light, but the rest made a series of spectacular flops and tumbles across the ice.
My little girl–an odd combination of independence and caution–wouldn’t let anyone help her, but also didn’t want to let go of the wall. Finally, I convinced her to try skating with a “walker” to help her get her balance. She still fell. A lot. But she got her feet under her and slid around, and she had a smile on her face the whole time. She was unembarrassed needing a “crutch” to help her keep her balance, and the other kids she was skating with (some of whom had walkers and some of whom didn’t) all skated together without seeming to note the difference. Whenever one of her classmates fell, my daughter was quick to skate over and let them use her walker to stand again.
I realized I could learn a lot from her attitude. She had fun even if she wasn’t the best skater there. She helped her friends. She fell, but she got back up. She came to understand that falling is scary and a bit painful, but it isn’t ultimate failure. We don’t fall when we’re clinging to the side, but we also don’t learn, we don’t have fun, and we don’t help ourselves or anyone else. It’s okay to fall. The important thing is to get out on the ice and try.