AN Essay Contest HOSTED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH
DOTDASH MEREDITH & REAL SIMPLE
14 Girls Write Now mentees share mini- and mega-moments of clarity in these personal essays.
Rolling Through Fear: Realizations at the Rink
By Camila Bonilla
How I found my stride with the help of a stranger, a friend and cerulean blue roller-skates.
My best friend and I struggle to hold hands while rolling around Brooklyn Skate Park. The plastic wristguards clack against our palms every time we try, so for now I loop my pinky around hers. With each push, I heave my right foot forward with all my might, as if bricks dangle around my ankle. Instead my foot is brought down by the weight of my brand-new Cerulean blue skates, sparkly wheels twinkling in the afternoon sun.
Easily finding a rhythm, my friend effortlessly shifts her weight from one foot to the other. Left foot. Right foot. Left foot. Right foot. I look at her feet, trying to mimic her motion and momentum, but almost topple over. I feel stupid when she tries to catch me.
Why am I not getting this?
Just a week ago, I sat at home with debit card in hand, ready to punch in numbers to declare the leather boots mine. Now, I wondered if it was even fair to call these my skates, with all of the almost-toppling and tumbling.
I waddle to the wall, looking over to where foamy waves of the East River pounce and retreat like a cat, against the poles that held the structure. I am much better at swimming.
Maybe a dip wouldn’t hurt after all of this sweating for nothing?
In a flash, a man speeds past me in jet-black skates, a small gust of wind picking up my hair. He continues to glide along the circumference of the rink, arms swaying with the pop music blaring through the loudspeakers. My jaw drops and I shake my friend’s arm.
“I have to ask for his secrets,” I say, rolling over to where he spins on one leg. He notices me and winds to a stop.
“How do you do it?” It’s although he is a celebrity, with skills and talent attainable by nobody. “I still cannot figure this out for the life of me.”
“Practice. Let me see how you roll. I’ll tell you if you are doing anything wrong in particular.”
Feeling gazes on me, I awkwardly trudge forward on one skate. After pushing a little more, I turn to face them, hands out just in case I fall.
“Hm.” He points to my skates. “You need to pick up your left leg.”
Subconsciously, I knew this. My lack of confidence hindered my ability to progress.
“I’m scared to fall.”
“Without falling first, you won’t make it anywhere. You need to fall to get better.”
I nodded. I knew what I had to do. Pushing away all second thoughts and doubts before they could corrupt my sudden spike in confidence, I push forward on my left leg and then my right. A few more times, and now I feel like I’m flying.
Then I crash. I come down on my backside. I feel nothing but pain—and then, laughter. My best friend and I erupt into a fit of giggles as she comes over to give me a hand. The man gives me a thumbs up then skates away, weaving in and out of the crowd ahead.
To my surprise, as I make more laps around the rink despite the amount of times I fall, I don’t want to stop trying. Although my fear of falling hadn’t disappeared completely that day, I did realize failure is necessary for success. The time spent at the rink was too short for me to spend it wallowing in my mistakes. Rather, I felt happier dancing to the music overhead, holding pinkies with my best friend and doing it all on skates.
Before writing my actual piece in the flesh, I wrote out a story draft in quick bullet points, to outline each moment I wanted to briefly touch on. Then over the course of three weeks, I had writing sessions with my mentor. I wrote freely without looking back, because I could edit this later. After finishing my first draft, I trimmed off about a couple of hundred words, to fit the word count and make the piece short and sweet. My mentor and I scribbled down potential titles for the essay, and landed on “Rolling Through Fear: Realizations at the Rink,” then finally submitted the composition.
My Simple Realization: An Essay Contest & Story Collection
14 Girls Write Now mentees share mini- and mega-moments of clarity in these personal essays. This contest was produced in partnership with Dotdash Meredith and the team at Real Simple as part of the SeeHer Initiative.
Camila Bonilla is a junior in high school who loves to bring her fictional narratives to life in writing. In middle school, Camila first dabbled in writing when crafting her Friend-fiction stories, featuring her classmates in school. Realizing that the limits in stories were endless, Camila now always stops to wield the power of her pencil when an idea sparks in her head. When not jumping from story to story, she enjoys painting watercolour portraits and making short films with her friends.