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lessons learned the hard way

Let’s talk about lessons.

Not those you learned in a textbook or from a teacher in front of a chalkboard, white board, projector or whatever the presentation method of your day might’ve been, but life lessons.

I remember the year I thought I wanted to be a skateboarder. There wasn’t any rhyme or reason outside of a desire to be cool in a different sort of way. I was a child of the 90s, but a teen of the 2000s. It wasn’t skateboarding’s heyday. In fact, skateboarding had become a bit fringe, though the skater aesthetic still played pretty strongly on the top 40 music video countdowns.

Ever the confident athlete, I was sure it would be an easy skill to pick up. I even had a hand-me-down skateboard from my cousin who was a teen during the actual heyday of skateboarding. All I had left to do was dig a few old hoodies out of my big brother’s closet, get some oddly wide tennis shoes and… well, actually learn how to skateboard.

It was not as simple as I envisioned.

In fact, I struggled quite a bit. I’m not sure I ever had so many skinned knees as the year I took up skateboarding.

Everyone tried to tell me it wouldn’t be super easy, but my natural stubbornness and a past history of being decent at most sports I tried sent their warnings in one ear and straight out of the other.

I spent months embarrassing myself in my cul-de-sac for no real audience. I spent those same months confidently carrying my skateboard everywhere and at least looking the part I was hoping to one day play.

I never did get good at skateboarding. I actually still hope to one day, but I’m willing to accept that it may not be for me.

Life lessons. They’re never exactly what you want them to be. How many of the biggest things we learn in life end up being learned the hard way? How often do we reach our most important conclusions by first embarrassing ourselves and not listening to the wiser folks who’ve come before us?

My time as a “skater” is one of my favorite things to look back on. How typically teenager-ish of me to ignore the sage advice of older people in my life only to later hang my head and admit I was wrong.

FREE MEMORY PROMPT: What is a lesson you learned the hard way? Who could’ve helped you if you’d first listened to their advice? What did you learn about yourself in the aftermath?

For more memory prompts or help getting started sharing your life story, visit where we can walk you through the best options for organizing, recording and sharing your story. We believe everyone has a story and every story matters.

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