I learned to roller skate during a pandemic – and I healed a trauma along the way
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During a pandemic everyone worries about germs, finding Lysol is difficult. But find a pair of roller skates? Now it is even more difficult.
Rollerblading has become the “it-girl” pastime of Gen-Zers and quarantined millennials – and it’s all thanks to TikTok. If you browse the app for a minute or two, you will inevitably come across a roller skating video. In these bewitching and strangely soothing clips, the skaters glide with fluid and weightless movements set to song. They look happy and at peace even in the midst of the current chaos in the world. As a spectator, you can’t help but want to capture this feeling, as well as the childish bliss of roller skating.
So, is it difficult to become an ethereal woman on eight wheels? Well, when you put on roller skates for the first time, you will look more like a baby deer on a slippery patch of ice. Each step is wobbly and uncertain and, frankly, terrifying. You’ll be rolling along the sidewalk in jerks of terror rather than sliding effortlessly. And you will fall. Oh, you’re gonna fall.
A month ago, when I first put on roller skates, I expected to fall. But my most difficult fall was not a fall in asphalt and scraped knees. It was in a hole of buried childhood trauma that I didn’t expect to dig up due to an innocent TikTok trend.
I wanted this story to be a silly documentation of my attempts to be a “cool teenager” at the age of 28. Instead, it turned into therapy.
The revival of rollerblading on TikTok comes from several magnetizing skaters, including Ana Coto, who has more than 2.2 million followers on the platform. The timing has something to do with it too. After all, roller skating is the perfect solo pastime for a slightly apocalyptic world.
In quarantine, many adults have returned to reckless childhood hobbies to cope. From tie-dye puzzles to model building, social distancing has brought many childish ways to kill time. And, that includes roller skating.
“There has certainly been a slight increase over the past few months – and we have strived to meet demand,” said Matt Hill, CEO of Impala Skates, of the popularity of roller skating. Impala is arguably at the forefront of affordable roller skates for Gen Z and Gen Y. “Even since the quarantine was lifted in the United States, we have only seen demand increase, which shows that there is a huge movement beyond quarantine and COVID. “
Hill adds, “We love that skating is helping people get through lockdown, stay healthy, and stay connected as a community during a time that can otherwise seem quite isolated.”
This rekindling of childhood passions, including roller skating, is arguably the result of plentiful free time coupled with the sudden shock of mortality that a global pandemic can bring. It’s arguably a coping mechanism to an uncertain world, allowing you to retire to a place full of heartwarming memories and carefree happiness.
I never felt particularly related to my childhood, not to mention my childhood hobbies. I always tell people that I was raised to be a “mini adult,” with behavioral expectations and strict rules that don’t encourage childhood exploration or typical rambunctious behavior. I grew up sheltered from other children besides my sister, never going to playgroups and rarely seeing friends outside of school.
I also lacked recreation when I was a child, in addition to a stint as a dancer until the age of 9 when my parents decided not to re-enroll me. I spent all my time with books, Barbies, TV, and those ridiculous fuzzy 90s coloring posters. I had a bike I never learned to ride and roller blades that never lost their wheels. training.
My childhood memories are faint and fuzzy, distant and lackluster. All of the memories I have are mostly collected and triggered by the stories of other people. Doctors told me it was a symptom of PTSD, a self-preservation method that kept good and bad from entering, resulting in a drop of nothingness.
But seeing women on TikTok sliding on asphalt ripped something inside of me. Even at 28 and far from being a cool it-girl, I wanted to be like them. They are utterly and beautifully free, both channeling childish joy and oozing a powerful, confident femininity. They are fluid, free and happy. They are not held back by anything.
When I got tied for the first time my Impala roller skates, I automatically felt dizzy with nervous excitement. Impalas are the skates for learning, balancing both quality and affordability, as expensive as roller skates. While the brand doesn’t share sales figures, finding its roller skates online is next to impossible – and has been for most of 2020.
Learning to roller skate takes a risk. You have to look utterly ridiculous as you grope to move. You have to accept the inevitable scrapes, bruises and falls. You have to channel the bravery of your childhood, something that we tend to lose as we get older.
It took the gentle but relentless encouragement of a friend via video chat to finally get me up on my skates. Do you know that moment that hurts your stomach when you have to make up for it by falling on a patch of ice? Imagine that feeling of dread distilled with every movement you make.
Turns out she glides effortlessly like a roller skating star takes a lot effort – not to mention skill, practice and patience.
Even now a full month in my journey, I am far from being a TikTok villain in roller skating. I’m not terrified, but I’m not a confident roller-skating goddess spinning around the sidewalks of New York. And I’m definitely not skilled enough to show off my moves – frankly because I haven’t acquired any moves yet. I have just mastered straight line skating with proper technique and stopping without having to grab the nearest stationary object. These skills won’t exactly make me the next Ana Coto, but they feel like progress.
But learning to roller skate was more than learning to stand on eight wheels without looking like an icy fawn. Skating has given me a real kind of purely youthful pleasure. It’s the adrenaline rush of being in a moderately terrifying situation mixed with a laughing, giddy childish glee that is probably familiar to most, but somewhat alien to me.
But even though I’m only one step away from a mess on wheels, skating has finally helped me channel childhood. Grasping this long delusional feeling of youthful wonder has helped me realize that even though I was not “allowed” to be a child all those years ago, I can still reach out to this curious and adventurous little girl in the world. inside me that has long been denied.
When I skate, I am totally and beautifully free, channeling childish joy and oozing powerful, confident femininity. I flow, free and happy. I am not held back by anything.
Find roller skates, let alone popular Impala roller skates, is extremely difficult due to the incredible popularity of roller skating. Check out Impala skates at the retailers below, listed by where they are most readily available.
Shop: Impala roller skates at Smallables, $ 114
Shop: Impala roller skates at Tilly’s, $ 94.99
Shop: Impala Roller Skates on Amazon, $ 95 +
Shop: Impala roller skates at Zappos, $ 95
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