I’m Glad I Didn’t Give Up
“Cycling never cared about my weight, my looks, my grades, or my performance in PE class. I just pedaled, and my bike joined me along the journey.”Venkata Sai Naga Sushma
I was four when I learned to cycle.
My dad bought me a beautiful pink bike that year, with unicorns printed on the seat and handles. I was mesmerized by its sheer perfection. All I could think about was riding it and feeling like a princess.
Ironically, though, my first cycling experience was a disaster.
A Bike in the Bushes
Naively, I thought cycling would be a piece of cake—all I had to do was get on and pedal through the streets.
In reality, I fell into the bushes in front of my house, resulting in several bad scratches on my arms and legs. I lay there, crying and crying until my mom stepped out and brought me in.
I didn’t want to talk to my dad, so I ignored him. After all, he was the one who bought me that bicycle. And now, I embarrassed myself by falling into the bushes.
I never wanted to touch that cursed bicycle again.
Beginning From Where I Failed
Compared to that innocent fall, things changed a lot once I grew into a teenager. Life became difficult to handle.
I experienced it all: peer pressure, bullying, body shaming, and, most importantly, being made to feel like an outsider.
I didn’t know what to do. I never spoke with my parents about my feelings, so they didn’t know about the depression that was slowly consuming me from inside.
The only person I spoke with about my depression was my English teacher, who advised:
“You think you are not worthy of anything. Change that mindset. Begin from where you failed.”My High School English Teacher
His advice made no sense at first, so I ignored it.
One day, I walked by a sporting goods shop, and a bicycle caught my eye, which featured a classy, navy blue finish. I didn’t know why, but I stood there and admired it for almost an hour until the shopkeeper asked if I wanted to buy it.
I seized the opportunity, took my new bike home, and proudly showed it to my parents.
Approaching Cycling With a New Perspective
After the initial excitement wore off, I recognized that I didn’t know how to ride. At 16, out of all my cousins, I was the only one who was still scared. And for no reason!
My dad recognized my fear. “You should relearn bicycling,” he said.
“You were four when you fell. Now, you are 16. You might have failed then, but it won’t be the same now. I’m sure you will love it.”
At last, my English teacher’s advice made sense!
Yes, I failed at cycling once. But, I gave up before I wholeheartedly tried to understand that falling is part of the learning process. No way was I going to make the same mistake again!
This time, no one lifted me from the ground or comforted me when I fell. I did it all by myself, tended to my wounds, and finally learned to cycle through the city streets. All on my own!
Cycling Through My Depression
I didn’t have friends at school.
My classmates liked to point out that I was fatter than them, and said I looked like a joker in PE class. I grew depressed.
During that time, cycling was my best friend. It never cared about my weight, my looks, my grades, or my performance in PE class. I just pedaled, and my bike joined me along the journey.
Whenever I rode, I felt like I was flying. The rush of the air on my face, adrenaline surging at faster speeds.
I remembered my pink unicorn bicycle, and felt once again like a princess with Pegasus wings, flying through the city and spreading around my magic sparkles.
I’d become lost in my imagined scene, only jerked from my daydream by a bump in the road. Or, when arriving at school.
Sometimes, I’d sit there in front, thinking about riding back home. I didn’t want to be concerned with looking for friends or dealing with the whispers in the locker room.
Fortunately, I started losing weight as I grew older, which improved my PE performance and endurance. My classmates also started talking to me, and I reciprocated.
But my first love was always cycling.
Pedaling the Streets, Presently
Eight years later and I still love cycling, especially at night.
Once it’s past 10 pm, I hop and my bike and slowly ride my community roads. I see the streetlights pass by. The slow breeze ruffles my hair, and I sometimes whistle my favorite tunes.
I take my ear pods with me, plug them in, and ride like it’s no one’s business! My friends tell me that I look like a peaceful fairy while cycling because I smile all the time, involuntarily.
I also joined a local cyclist group with 15 members. We usually go on riding trips during the weekend, which is refreshing after the week’s workload.
Rolling With What the Future Holds
Whether I’m by myself or with a group, I’m more positive about accepting life’s challenges when I’m cycling. It’s like cycling opens the doors to my subconscious, and allows me to get a better perspective on life.
I can feel the stress leave my body and my emotions stabilizing. Even during my teen years while battling depression, my bike was my therapist.
In fact, I still use my navy blue bike regularly, which was also my first best friend. It hasn’t needed any major repairs after all these years and has always remained loyal.
What started as a bad experience eventually helped change my life for the better. Through cycling, I made a true friend.
And funnily, it’s not human.
What’s your cycling story? Share it with the world!