This I Believe

Alyssa - Lake Placid, New York
Entered on August 14, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe in balance. Balance is so important in my sport, ski racing, just as it is important for functioning in everyday life. But I believe in balance for its more abstract reasons that keep me sane and happy to be alive. I am definitely someone who needs to feel balanced every day, from when I wake up in the morning, until I go the bed that night. If I don’t feel that sense of structure and that balance of emotions, I know I will not sleep well that night. Right now I am balancing ever so carefully between my teenage years and adulthood. Eighteen is a tricky year, graduating from high school, going to college; am I an adult, or is it still acceptable for me to call myself, ‘just a kid’?

Last summer I was ski training by walking along a balance beam. We were all trying to make it across the beam as the person with the fewest falls. During the first round, I was losing. But as the rounds went on I gained my balance and confidence, and by the end I was winning. Somewhere in the game I discovered that I could learn from the falls I was taking. Every time I lost my footing I had to climb back on again, and regain my balance. Balance isn’t as simple as just completing the exercise perfectly, it’s about learning from your tumbles, and pulling yourself right back up. To learn, you must have a balance of failures and successes. Ironically, I find it is about shaking what I have always considered as my balance, and changing things up. My life will, oddly, feel more balanced after I’ve taken away some security and had to fight to gain it back.

Balance, like life, is a work in progress. I am always teetering between my ideal paradise and my worst nightmare, and sometimes it’s necessary to take a risk or a fall before I can get to the paradise I’m looking for. As long as I acknowledge that I am the one deciding what choices I make, good or bad, then it will be a worthwhile fight to regain my balance after a bad decision, or stretch it even more after making a good one.

I used to think of balance as a fine line, something that it would be fatal to mess with, something that I should try relentlessly to attain, like a tightrope walker, focusing solely on staying on that thin wire. But now I’ve learned that it is more about changing what balance has always felt like to me. It’s about shifting my views, and crossing the line sometimes, because these acts will, in turn, expose me to a totally new feeling and a completely different and more personal, unique sense of balance.