Do you know how humble pie tastes?

Have you ever signed up for something thinking you would be a raging bad-ass at it only to find yourself the least competent one in the class?

That's what I discovered when I recently signed up for a basic motorcycle safety class. I didn't have any prior experience in riding a motorcycle except as a passenger, and I'd never driven a manual clutch transmission in my life.

However, I'd been around a lot of motorcyclists and dudes talking about bikes, so you know?!?

How hard could it be to learn on a manual motorcycle?

Uh…so much harder than I realized.

I'm 5'0" and carry a very petite frame. When I sat on top of my training motorcycle, within the 1st hour, I dropped the bike twice. In the 30 minutes following, I dropped another bike down. None of the bikes fit, and I had a super hard time maneuvering it around. Even making a simple circle was tough.

It wasn't going well, and I was anxious, stressed, and freaking out inside.

This wasn't what I thought was going to happen. In my imagination, I saw myself as a cool rider, cruising down the street in a vintage motorcycle and having fun.

That wasn't what reality was showing me.

It was showing me that I couldn't seem to get the whole clutch and throttle relationship down. I was overthinking everything, and I kept stalling the bike every time I tried to go forward. It wasn't graceful, and I felt embarrassed and humiliated in front of everyone who also didn't know how to ride.

That's when the instructor pulled out a moped and told me to ride it instead. Talk about burning with shame.

I was so upset that he put me on a moped that I stopped overthinking and just rode the damn thing.

For the first 2 hours, I was seething inside, having to eat the bitter disappointment of humble pie and acknowledging that I wasn't doing a stellar job.

I was so frustrated at not driving a manual transmission that I rocked the automatic moped but didn't want to celebrate it.

I was making u-turns, braking at curves, and swerving to miss invisible deer with easiness.

However, I kept downplaying and judging the moped as if it wasn't a motorcycle, comparing myself to other students' journeys. It was a mixed class with four men and four women. None of the women knew how to ride, so why I was so down on myself didn't make any sense to me except for the fact that I'm a perfectionist and really wanted to get this down the first time.
That's when the first bite of humble pie snapped me out of my doldrums.

Riding motorcycles can be dangerous and considered high-risk behavior. Nevertheless, I was approaching learning how to ride as if it was an item on my to-do list, and I just needed to check it off.

When my 1st motorcycle surged forward, and I felt completely out of control, I got a vision of how badly I could mess myself up if I didn't know what I was doing. That's when I realized that I couldn't rush this learning process. I couldn't just pretend this was a thing to cross off when it's a matter of life and death when you ride.

Dang, that first bite of humble pie did sting.

When my partner, Jon, picked me up, I immediately burst into tears, complaining of how badly I was doing and that riding a moped was not the same as riding a motorcycle. Jon comforted me and reinforced that I was just 'starting' to learn my motorcycle riding journey, which takes time. He also reinforced that I was on my own ride and couldn't compare myself to anyone else. In addition, he stated that perhaps this challenge was exactly what I needed to slow down and really learn how to ride.

That didn't feel better.

I found my mind deteriorating to a place of judgment and feeling not-good-enough - two energies that I try hard not to dwell in because it's dangerous territory. I tried but didn't succeed well. My dreams that night were fraught with disappointment, self-castigation, and self-flagellation.

I couldn't believe that I was internally beating myself up for something I didn't know how to do.

Have you ever found yourself doing that?

When I returned to my motorcycle safety class the next day, I felt an overwhelming sense of anxiety and stress. I was still upset and inconsolable. I was still comparing myself to other riders, and I knew I was in trouble.

When I arrived at my class, I spotted the moped and turned away in disgust. I didn't want to practice on that thing.  

When the instructor told us to mount up, I turned on the Honda Metropolitan, sat there on the moped, and just sighed. I watched all the other riders around me practicing their friction zone and moving back and forth.

There I sat, chillin' on my automatic transmission moped, not a freaking care in the world.

"What are you doing to yourself?" I found myself asking myself. "Aren't you having fun?"

I paused and looked around me. Here I was on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, playing in the parking lot with a bunch of other big kids and learning how to ride together. Maybe it wasn't so bad after all…

I felt a slight crack in my demeanor. But, oh man, I really needed a major shift.

We began to practice and ride different obstacles in the range course. I found myself relaxing with each passing hour, tuning into the instructions, and just letting myself ride. I stopped thinking, judging, or beating myself up.  

The Honda Metropolitan is what I would have to test on, so I better get myself comfortable on the moped. And dammit…I was determined to get my motorcycle license that day.

I felt another crack in my demeanor. Maybe I am having fun after all.

Hours flew by, and we rode, stopped, rested, and rode again. By 3 hours into my 5-hour class, I found myself joking, laughing, and kidding with the other students. Being happy, light, and having fun is my natural state of being.

I began to look at the Honda Metropolitan with different eyes. I came up to the moped, and instead of feeling like I wanted to kick it over, I patted it on the frame and said, "Thank you for teaching me."

The last hour of our class was testing. You could only miss 15 points, or else you failed the class. The instructor had told us of other students who failed because they fell, dropped their motorcycle, or didn't know how to ride still. I was determined not to be one of those students.

The last hour was the most fun hour for me. I flew through the five obstacles and tests with flying colors. I felt a small surge of confidence that wasn't there when I started, and I ended up making a 100 on the test.

I learned some majorly valuable stuff in this motorcycle safety class that went beyond just learning how to ride. In all honesty, it felt like a test of spirit and self-care.

I learned that judging myself based on my experience and comparing myself to others is not conducive to learning. Instead, I had to pivot and acknowledge my inexperience to humble up and learn to match my skill level.

I learned that you couldn't rush things if you want to do anything well and do it right. That's the difference between being safe and doing something potentially dangerous.

I also learned that no matter how you look at it, a moped is still a motorcycle, and I was gaining skills in riding.

I've known too many people who've wrecked or injured themselves riding mopeds and motorcycles. So I knew I didn't want to fall into that category and mess myself up.

That's why eating humble pie is a good thing. You get a real hard glimpse of where you're at and where you need to start. It brings you back to your senses and helps you operate from your place of safety.

I'm sharing this story with all of you because we often face hard things and new learning opportunities. But, unfortunately, we can't always barrel into these learning opportunities like a bull in a china shop and pretend we know more than we do, or else we endanger ourselves with our pride.

That's why humble pie was a bitter bite because my pride was pricked, and I needed to just start at the very beginning. There's nothing wrong with that. If you're willing to learn from the get-go and do it the right way, you'll grow in confidence, maturity, and awareness in your own special journey of understanding.

And you know what? I fell in love with a moped this weekend, and I'm on the search for my beloved little motorcycle because the journey continues...

So tell me friend, have you experienced a lesson in eating a bite out of humble pie recently?

Let me know! I'm curious to hear!

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