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What skateboarding taught me

Created 21 July 2019

Updated 8 May 2021

I used to skateboard a lot. It was my obsession for much of my childhood and college years. It was all I wanted to do. When I wasn’t at school or at extracurricular activities, I was skateboarding. When I was at school or at extracurricular activities, I was thinking about skateboarding. I spent countless hours playing skateboarding video games, reading skateboarding magazine, and watching skateboarding videos. It was basically my life. Although I don’t skateboard anymore, it taught me key lessons that I now rely on every day.

I learned how to be creative. As a skateboarder, you have to push the envelope. Once somebody does a trick on a certain obstacle, they get the credit and recognition for doing it first. After that, you can’t showcase that trick because it’s already been done. You have to find a trick that hasn’t been done on a certain obstacle and do that in order to raise your reputation. It forces you to be creative, and match your ability to express yourself with your surroundings.

I learned persistence. When you skateboard, most things don’t work out. When you try a trick, most of the time you don’t land it. You try until you land it, give up, or get hurt. In life, also, most things don’t work out. For example, when you try to date someone, almost all of the time the relationship doesn’t work out. When I write software, most of the time it doesn’t work. I’m always building or debugging. When it does finally work, it’s time to change it to better meet user needs. When you don’t succeed, try and try again. This applies to skateboarding, and to life.

A lot of the social skills I have, I learned at the skatepark. There were no adults supervising us, so we had to get along by ourselves. I learned power dynamics. I learned how to self-organize. I learned how to evaluate people’s personalities. Basically the fundamentals of how people, specifically guys, work.

I don’t consider myself a skateboarder anymore. I decided in my early twenties that the risk of injury and the risk getting in trouble with the police outweighed the benefits skateboarding brought me, so I stopped. But I’m thankful for the time I spent doing it. Those moments had a huge impact on my life and shaped me into who I am today.