While many students from school get around in cars or on foot, senior Karen Figueroa can manage to get herself anywhere with just a pair of roller skates.
Despite facing various dangers while roller skating since she received her first pair of skates from her dad in fifth grade, such as having a roller rink cleared for her after a bad fall and almost skating off a pier, Figueroa figured that it would be a fun method of getting around when she was thinking of ways to get to work.
“Roller skating is something that allows you to fully be in the moment,” Figueroa said. “You have to fully be aware of your surroundings, your body, your balance and your headspace. It’s helped me branch out, and I often do it when I’m in a rut.”
She learned how to roller skate on her own and with the help of her cousin’s girlfriend, who continues to motivate her to improve at roller skating. She also keeps tips she has received from professionals in mind whenever she practices anywhere—at skate parks, roller rinks, in her house, her backyard—wherever she can find a good ground.
“I don’t struggle nearly as much as I used to,” Figueroa said, “but I can remember back when I was falling a lot and just staying on the floor for a while to absorb the pain and then just giggle about it. It’s hard to learn balance, but after that, everything is so much easier. As soon as I learned that it was all just weight distribution—like ‘if I move my weight towards here, I’ll end up spinning or if I shift my foot inwards, I can do this,’ it became a lot less complicated.”
Although roller skating was far from easy for her at the beginning, eventually after tons of practice, it became an activity that puts her at ease.
“Roller skating has brought me a lot of confidence and makes me feel pretty in a way that I hadn’t felt before,” Figueroa said. “When I roller skate, I feel radiant and just lighter than usual, I feel self security in the sense that I’m in control of where I’m going and what I’m doing at that very moment.”
Furthermore, Figueroa thinks of roller skating as a way to express herself through the clothes she wears when roller skating. She is particularly fond of wearing vintage clothing from the 80s and 90s.
“Everyone around me at rinks always has the coolest clothes and they look so unapologetic about being so bright and bold, which is something I absolutely adore,” Figueroa said. “Roller skating would give me a reason to get dolled up in my bell bottoms and flashy earrings. I get the freedom to dress the way I want to because at school, I shy away from dressing the way I would like to.”
Besides being a form of transportation, boosting her confidence, and providing a creative outlet for self-expression, roller skating has ultimately changed Figueroa’s life.
“This hobby has taught me to be patient with myself and to just treat myself kindly,” Figueroa said. “It’s pushed me to not be afraid of messing up a little or looking a little silly sometimes because the outcome is always so delightful.”
She plans to continue roller skating for fun as she is inspired by other girls on Instagram who post videos of themselves skating, pushing her to always keep on practicing.
“I know it’s something I want to keep doing. In the future, I want to join a derby team and roll dance, so I can be one of those pros at Venice,” Figueroa said.
She recommends roller skating to anyone who just wants a little laugh or just to learn something new as all it takes is a pair of roller skates, safety gear, and lots of practice.