Today, I decided to take a bit of a chance and doodlewash a human, which is incredibly rare for me as I’m not well-practiced in drawing them. So, I figured some practice was probably in order and took a moment to sketch one. This little girl reminded me of when I was a kid and attempted ice skating for the first time. I was really not good at all and everyone around me seem to posses a quiet confidence that I simply didn’t have. It was like everyone naturally knew how to skate with ease and I was the one awkward kid who hadn’t inherited the skating gene. I was amazed by those kids who could lace up those shoes with the knife blades on the bottom and gracefully sail across the ice. I would just shove off and slide forward, awkwardly hoping I didn’t land flat on my face. It strikes me now that I was maybe a bit too old by the time I tried it. While still a child, I was already growing up and wanting to do things “perfectly,” rather than simply have a bit of fun while trying them. My promise to myself in the coming year will therefore be to simply have fun doing things, and see if just maybe, in the process, I can end up doing things I never dreamed I could.
What I remember most about ice skating were those wonderful moments when I sailed forward effortlessly. Sure, I would end up using the wall to stop myself, having never figured out how to stop properly on those things, but I would do it! Just for a moment! In that glorious moment, I forgot all of the fears that were making me so bad at skating in the first place and just skated with glee instead. About the time I would hit that wall and lurch to a very ungraceful stop, the feeling would fade. But, I would just shove off once more and keep on trying and failing, and then trying once more. One would think that since I never learned to skate perfectly that I would have bad memories of those attempts. Yet, all I remember was the fun I had attempting it and those tiny moments of victory. Sure, I’ve always been a bit of an optimist, but those moments are awesome! Those little victories may not count for much by themselves when they happen, but when put together, they add up to a lifetime of achievement.
As I look back on my life now, I realize that beside every tiny failure there was usually always a tiny victorious moment as well. One so small that it often couldn’t distract me from my wallowing in my current deficiencies. I wanted to do things perfectly, but never stopped to understand what that even meant. Was I meant to skate exactly like those other kids I admired? Was that the definition of success? At the time, I assumed that it was, but thankfully as I’ve grown older, I’ve realized it’s not the case at all. That little girl who seemed like she was born on skates, used to make me feel inadequate. Today, I’ve learned that I have a gift that works perfectly well for everything I want to accomplish in life. Dogged determination. It’s less about innate skill and more about feverishly trying something until I can prove to myself that I can sort of do it properly. Thinking back to that kid I used to be, I’m glad he taught me to never give up, and I’m quite thankful for these enlightening memories of ice skating.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Nickel Azo Yellow, Vermilion, Opus (Vivid Pink), Cobalt Turquoise, and Cobalt Blue. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!