Seven years ago I spent a week in Chamonix on a self-taught crash course in snowboarding. And a crash course it was. I spent most of the time on my ass and headed back to England covered in bruises, grazes and with whiplash. However, despite the outward disaster I was actually pleased with what I had accomplished. No broken bones, a marginal improvement most days and I wasn't put off from going back again the next year to improve further. And that's what I did. I spent the next few years back on the slopes determined to become a decent snowboarder.
Fast forward to a few weeks when I visited Bansko in Bulgaria - a relatively small ski resort compared to what I was used to in the Alps - but perfect for a few days of powder (and considerably cheaper too!)
I took my snowboard on the trip with every intention of using it. After all the injuries and confidence knocks I'd been through years earlier I was finally able to start seeing the fruits of my labour.
My sister, who has never snowboarded or skied before, joined me on the trip. We agreed to have a ski lesson and learn something new together - from scratch. Once she'd got the hang of skiing and felt more confident I'd then switch to my board for a couple of days. However, like all great plans - they rarely work out.
There was something about skiing that just clicked for me in a way that snowboarding didn't when I first started. It was miles easier for a start, and I didn't wind up each day feeling like I'd done ten rounds in a boxing ring. So, by day three when my sister insisted I move across to the board again for fear of holding me back, I found myself making excuses.
"I think I better to stick to the skis so we can stay together at the same pace." Is what I told her, like a caring sister...
Snowboarding never came naturally to me, and getting to the level I am now took a lot of effort. I loved the process of having to work hard to see improvement and eventually it all started to click. It was never about being the best, it was about applying myself and sticking at it despite the numerous times I wanted to give up. And the reason I struggled with the transition from snowboarding to skiing was because in my mind I felt like I was giving up on it.
It was only when I chatted to my sister that I started to view it from a slightly different perspective.
"Rather than feeling guilty about giving up on something you've worked hard at, look on it as taking the time to learn something new. You can still do both, but use this trip as a way of getting the basics to skiing nailed.' She told me.
She was right. Having a passion for learning rather than a hunger for success was a far more mentally-uplifting stance, and actually applies to all aspects of life. A lot of people see starting something from scratch, or being a bit rubbish at something as giveaways of their inadequacies, revealing that they come up short in some way. This often results in giving up altogether. I'd got past that, I'd proved to myself that I could do it so now it was about giving myself a break and seeing what else I could do on the slopes.
TRAVELOGUE OF OUR SKIING ADVENTURE IN BANSKO