Becoming a Beginner, Again


I’m not going to lie. When I was diagnosed with Type 1, I thought my life was over. I saw so many doors in my future closing; there were just too many things that I didn’t think I’d be able to do. And for a long time, I was angry. So I did what a lot of us do, and ignored diabetes. I refused to let it define me, but by ignoring it I was letting it do just that.

I spent a lot of my childhood being afraid. I never wanted to stand out. I never wanted to look stupid because I didn’t know something. This meant I spent a lot of time not trying new things. I stuck to what I knew. I became good at what I knew, but I always knew something was missing. I wanted more. I wanted to be like the characters I read about in books, the ones who were always having adventures, being brave.

When I was diagnosed with diabetes, suddenly I had an excuse for all the things I couldn’t do. I could hide behind the diabetes door. But, it turns out, it was actually diabetes that taught me to be brave. I realized that I was the only one holding myself back. It you listen to the voice in your head for too long, you start to believe it.

I still remember how terrified I was giving myself that first injection over fifteen years ago. I didn’t think I could possibly do it. But I had no choice. It was needles or death, and those kinds of odds make decisions easier, that’s for sure. Diabetes has taught me that being afraid is just a part of life. The more I put myself in situations that make me uncomfortable, the more I like the person I am for trying.

It all started with running. I started with a slow, painful two kilometres. Five years later, I’ve run half-marathons, marathons and even ultra-marathons. Running 100km changed my life. And it didn’t change my life because I finished the race. It changed because I got to the start line. The most euphoric moment of my life was standing on the start line of that first ever 100km run. I couldn’t stop smiling. All I could think was “I’ve actually gotten here … the girl who never thought she could run has finally proven that she can.”

I have never been a confident cyclist. But just a few years ago I wouldn’t have called myself a runner either. Bike Beyond was too incredible an opportunity to miss just because I was scared. So I threw my hat in the ring, and realized that once again, I would have to become a beginner.

I have always admired people who learn new skills as an adult. It isn’t comfortable being a beginner, being vulnerable. All of these situations that make me feel uncomfortable are the ones I keep pushing myself towards. Anything that I know will be a challenge tends to make my eyes light up. I’d rather try than spend my life wondering if I could. It turns out failing isn’t as scary as I used to think it was.

In just a few weeks I’ll be riding across America, marvelling once again at this girl I’ve managed to become. I still catch myself laughing out loud when I’m riding, marvelling at this incredible opportunity I’ve managed to be selected for. This is where the magic happens. And, after all, I don’t want to let fear decide my future.

Learn more about Bike Beyond.

WRITTEN BY Melissa Rodgers, POSTED 05/24/17, UPDATED 05/24/17

Mel Rodgers is 32 years old and grew up in Australia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka. She was diagnosed with Type 1 just before her 18th birthday. In more recent years she has discovered a love of running ridiculously long distances, especially when it includes mountain trails. She is stoked to be part of team Bike Beyond and can't wait to see just how big America is from a cyclist's perspective.