During the December holidays, I went skiing in Japan. One of the slopes I encountered was called Yotei Sunset (pictured below), which is 29° at its steepest. Feeling overwhelmed by the gradient, I stopped at the top of the slope, and noticed that several other skiers had done the same. I imagine they might have been questioning their life choices, evaluating their chances of survival, seeing their lives flash before their eyes, praying like they had never prayed before, or some combination of the above.
As for me, two contradictory thoughts were alternating in my mind:
You Always Have Choices – Make Wise, Compassionate Ones
Standing at the top of Yotei Sunset, I had several options to choose from, which included:
- Give up, turn around, and walk away.
- Just go for it and ski down, come what may.
- Take off my skis and walk down.
The choices you make, especially in the face of challenges, will define you and shape the kind of person you become. As Professor Dumbledore told Harry Potter, “It is our choices… that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
When struggling to learn something, you can choose to persevere and to be an active learner; or you can choose to give up. When dealing with conflicts with classmates, you can choose to be patient, kind, and empathetic; or you can choose to insist on your own point of view, and even lose your temper.
You always have choices, and I hope you will make wise, compassionate ones that help others and help yourself grow.
Have the Courage and Curiosity to Embrace New Challenges
Back to Yotei Sunset. What I eventually did was this: I lay down on my side, on the snow, lifted up my legs and skis, and let gravity do the work. I slid slightly more than halfway down the slope, before feeling comfortable enough to get up and continue skiing. I recognised my limits, broke the problem down into smaller parts, and tackled it part by part. I may have looked foolish to other skiers, but at least I conquered part of the slope and made it to the bottom safely, which still took a lot of courage!
You may encounter your own metaphorical Yotei Sunsets this year – unknown, unfamiliar challenges that make you very uncomfortable. Perhaps it will have to do with struggling with one or more subjects, facing obstacles while trying to learn a new skill, feeling anxious about public speaking, taking on a leadership role, or making new friends.
In the face of your Yotei Sunset, don’t think, “I will only rise to the challenge when I am 100% ready, very confident, and very good.” Many times, we won’t be 100% ready and confident, and that’s okay! We learn by doing, when we make mistakes, and even when we don’t achieve our targets. If you are humble, teachable, and willing to do your best, you will have lots of support in CHR – so just go for it!
In addition, when you are trying to grow and develop yourself, don’t overthink how you look to others and what they may be saying about you. Fumbling in front of others may be embarrassing, but in such situations, being thick skinned isn’t a bad thing!
In 2023, my hope for all CHRians is that you will have the courage and curiosity to embrace new challenges, because that’s when you will grow the most.