My personal mantra: No Fear. No Regrets.
When I was a girl, I always wanted a bike. I would watch my cousins and other kids ride around my neighborhood in Houston—the barrio—and dream of the day when I could join them, flying through the streets with the wind in my hair, feeling the rush of adrenaline as I turned a corner at high speed. But my dad never let me have one. He was worried I’d get hit by a car, or even kidnapped (the barrio was a pretty rough place—and still is). I know he was just looking out for me. That’s what dads do.
It wasn’t until my senior year at the University of Texas at Austin that I finally got my first bike and learned how to ride. My boyfriend at the time was a hardcore mountain biker, and while I couldn’t afford a bike like he had (it was more expensive than most used cars), I did manage to find a cheaper one. This thing was a clunker. Super-heavy, no suspension. Just an absolute beast of a bike.
I certainly didn’t have the best equipment. But I did have a great teacher. Someone who was willing to show me the “rules of the road”—what lines to take on a steep hill, what gears to use. After months of riding hills of rock in the sweltering Texas heat (for context, this is where Lance Armstrong used to train), my boyfriend gave me the best Valentine’s Day gift I’ve ever received: front-end suspension for my bike.
That’s when it all came together. After countless hours of training, the endless sweat and sacrifice, I became a better mountain biker than my teacher. Why? Three main reasons. First, I had an incredible mentor. Someone who had the patience and perspective to guide me at my own cadence and skill. Second, I’d finally been given the proper tools. Third, I had really strong legs (I’d just finished my final season on the UT powerlifting team, where I’d won regionals and finished second at nationals).
Okay, four reasons: I was also really competitive. Still am.
Even then, as a 22-year-old Latina trying to find her way in the world, the significance wasn’t lost on me: If you give people access to good teachers and the right resources, they can accomplish almost anything. It’s an idea fundamental to SHPE’s mission and message—and one in which I will always believe.
The summer before law school, when I was really starting to learn how to ride, I put a sticker on my helmet. No Fear. No Regrets. It quickly became my mantra. Whether I was burying myself in legal texts and studying for the next exam or tearing around the trails outside San Antonio, I did it with reckless abandon. And I had the bloody bandages and gauze to prove it (thankfully, law school never got quite that “physically” rough.)
When you’re barreling downhill on a mountain bike, there’s no time for fear or regret. You’re there, in the moment, and you’re either going to make it to the bottom, upright and unscathed, or you’re gonna crash and burn (something I did plenty of times). In the same way, when you’re inundated with books and lectures—or a big project for work—the only thing you can do is put your head down, lean into it, and push forward. As soon as fear and regret creep in, it’s game-over.
I learned this lesson the hard way. There was a 700-acre park near San Antonio I would often go to ride—a central hub for dirt and mountain bikers. I’d recently taken a spill. Nothing major, but bad enough that, as soon as I started down this steep hill, the memory of the wipeout and the gash in my shin popped into my head. As I approached a little mound of earth at the bottom of the hill, I was overcome by fear. I can’t do this, I thought to myself. I won’t do this, I told myself. I tried to turn my bike at the last second and avoid the mound, but it was too late. The sheer velocity propelled my body forward, throwing me off and over my bike and sending me skidding across the rock-hard ground.
With my bike completely mangled, my skin ripped from wrist to elbow – on both arms, I carried my bike two miles back to the car. It really sucked. But I did learn a valuable lesson: When you decide to take a new or different course—whether in life, at work or on an untamed Texas trail—the experience can be scary. Your mind and heart tell you to steer away. To stick to the things you know. To take the safest possible path. But sometimes, you’re better off just trusting your instinct—going with your gut. Had I just stayed the course and hit that mound with confidence, I would’ve been fine. Instead, I balked. And I paid the price.
I don’t do much mountain biking these days (road biking is more my style now), but the lessons it taught me—about fear and regret, about trusting my instincts and not being afraid to ride the road less traveled—continue to shape who I am. Whether you’re cranking up a seemingly insurmountable mountain or spiraling down a daunting hill, we’re bound to confront obstacles. We’re bound to take a fall. It’s how fast you get back up and moving on that reveals who you truly are.
No Fear. No Regrets is still my mantra. But the more I experience and come into my own, the more I realize that life isn’t just about conquering fear and regret. It’s also about knowing them.
Know Fear. Know Regret.
In order to truly confront our fears and regrets, we can’t allow ourselves to be paralyzed by them. We should not marinate in them. Instead, we must acknowledge them, reflect on them, and glean what lessons we can from them. By doing this, we’ll be able to recognize these feelings when they do arise —and push through them with courage and insight.
This past year has been one of the most challenging any of us will ever face. The specters of fear and regret are everywhere. The road ahead is scary; the mountains before steep and imposing. But so long as we’re willing to meet them head on—using our hearts and minds as a guide, but also knowing when to trust our gut—we’ll be better prepared for the paths and challenges ahead.
No Fear. No Regret.
Know Fear. Know Regret.
It’s all good.