“When adults say, ‘Teenagers think they are invincible’ with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don’t know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are.” — John Green, “Looking for Alaska”
Skateboarding in Peru is as much a part of the youth culture as hip hop and breakdancing. I recently attended a local skateboarding event and competition at the skatepark here in Huancayo:
Watching the guys bang themselves up as they attempted risky tricks had me thinking about the feeling of invincibility. There’s a certain power and confidence you need in order to put yourself out there despite knowing the falls you’ll face. It’s the same state I’m in when I practice acrobatics. I eventually face my fears because I often feel like nothing really harmful can ever happen to me. My heroes are my peers who break a leg or hurt a knee but are back at it again as soon as they’re well enough. After all, no pain, no gain, right?I imagine it’s almost like a dare to learn the skateboarding trick called, “Impossible,” or attempt what we call a mortal here in Peru — flips with no hands.
The Spanish word for “invincible” has only a slight change in one vowel: invencible. Seeing as how “invencible” is tied to the Spanish word, vencer (to defeat, overcome, be victorious), it clued me in to the etymology of the word. Its root is the Latin, invincibilis (to conquer): to be invincible is to be unconquerable.
I have felt pretty invincible all my life until earlier this month when I got my blood results back. I had high cholesterol. The doctor says it’s nothing alarming, but these are the consequences of not having a balanced diet. After spending a year in Japan eating instant noodles and spam, I thought I was untouchable and could get away with eating a lot of junk for the rest of my life. Apparently not and I’m grateful for the early warning.
Have you experienced the transition from feeling invincible to realizing that you’re not? If so, what made you discover your vulnerability and humanness?