It took me twenty-two years and a semester abroad in China to finally do something I never thought I would ever be able to do in my life; I learned to ride a bike!
Day 1. I was highly motivated, nothing could have stopped me at this point, or so I thought until I realized that I couldn’t even get my feet onto the pedal. In life, we get into things thinking that it will all fall into place, that everything will work out but life never goes to plan! It is in times like these, we must be able to adapt to change and keep pushing forward especially when doing something like a semester abroad. It’s a new country and a different environment; the best thing to do is to let go of all expectations and just enjoy each moment as it comes.
Day 2. I’m back again, my feet made it onto the pedal, but now, I cannot find my balance. No matter how I try, I’m either leaning too much to the left, or to the right and when I try to move, I’m wobbling. You see, I was too afraid to fall. Many times when we start something new, a new journey, a project, job whatever it may be, we doubt ourselves, we hold back and that’s why we wobble. We can’t see straight, so we lean on others, on our past, on our own understanding of things but what we really ought to do, is look at the road ahead of us! Get that balance and don’t look back.
Day 3. I can feel it, I’m nearly there, my feet are up, I have balance, now all I need to do is just push off! There I was trying over and over to get moving, my friend Aaliyah who has been by my side from the beginning motivating me, Jamin, one of the FIU faculty members giving me advice on what to do and out of nowhere, this old Chinese man came up to me and starts trying to help. We could not understand each other because of the language barrier, but we knew we had a common desire and that was for me to push off! It was at that moment I knew that I had to learn to ride this bike today! Because this man who had never seen me before, who could not even communicate with me wanted to see me succeed! This is what life is about… pushing off!, doing things we never thought we could, believing in ourselves, and believing in others!
I took a deep breath, I looked straight ahead and before I knew it, I was riding!
The joy I felt at that moment was unlike any joy I had ever felt in my entire life! That joy represented hard work, determination, consistency, and support; the key things we need to achieve.
Without the will to change, we can’t move; without the courage to continue, we can’t move; without the support of others, we can’t move; but with these things we can, and I did!
Now, from this day forward anytime I’m asked the question “What would you say is your biggest accomplishment in life?” The answer would be, the day I learned to ride a bike.
I encourage you to learn from the simple things as you embark on your own study abroad journey. Mental wellness is not always about meditation, it’s about appreciating the little things and recognizing the lessons in them. Being in China, I was forced to get out of my comfort zone because everyone here rides bikes to get around, but whether it’s learning to ride, or learning a new language, just do it! Because as the saying goes, “If not now, when?”