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Conversations with Rubina Bernabe

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rubina Bernabe.

Hi Rubina, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I am a proud Filipino-American, born and raised in Los Angeles, California! A classic case of college dropout (shoutout Chapman University) turned professional bartender, I actually spent most of my life– up until becoming a bartender– working every odd-job possible. From being a photographer at the Picture People, to being a Customer Service Rep for Microsoft, to being the receptionist at a dance studio, there was no job that could hold my shorter-than-most attention span– until bartending. So I ran with it! I’ve been a bartender for close to a decade, working as a corporate bar trainer, opening up stores in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Texas, eventually becoming a part-time Training Manager and Bartender. While bartending wasn’t exactly “the dream,” I genuinely enjoyed it and enjoyed training new employees.

Fast forward to 2020 and all its’ mayhem, I was laid off, stuck in quarantine, and needing a new hobby (as did millions of other people). I started rollerskating in July — all because my sister Kristine miraculously found my size at a local skate shop– as a way to get more outside-time amidst the Pandemic. Alongside the new hobby, I created an Instagram account to track my progress from Day 1 and share the process of learning something brand spankin’ new, not to mention challenging. Once I got comfortable on my skates, I started making tutorials “for beginners, by a beginner” as a fun and, more importantly, cost-efficient way to celebrate each time I grew 1000 followers! Making tutorials came naturally to me, given all the background experience I had in being a corporate trainer. I spent so many years learning how to communicate and explain things to new employees for a company, it was such a rewarding feeling to be able to translate those skills into helping a community of people!

The rollerskating community welcomed me with open arms and my following grew with each tutorial I put out (I just hit 38k!). More and more beginner skaters were using my tutorials to progress and learn, if not just as a source of momentary escape and entertainment (watch one tutorial and you’ll understand what I mean– I put the ‘fun’ in ‘fundamental’). Somehow, community leader and legend, Shayna Pigeon Meikle (owner of the iconic Pigeon’s Roller-skate Shop in Long Beach, where I purchased my skates from) caught wind of my account & reached out to me one momentous day in October asking how she could support me as a skater and content creator, and the rest is history!

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I’m a big believer in the Butterfly Effect and I always say, “a smooth sea never made for a skilled sailor,” because I know I would not be who or where I am right now if not for all the trials and tribulations in my life.

When I was 20 years old, my mom suffered a stroke and then a brain aneurysm that naturally altered the direction of my life but left her in a vegetative state for almost a decade, until she naturally passed in December 2018. In that time, I transferred to 2 different community colleges, before transferring to a prestigious and private 4-year university… only to dropout after realizing I was putting myself into years of debt for something I wasn’t even sure what I wanted to do with.

I threw myself into bartending purely because it was a job that could make me the most money without a college degree while giving me the flexibility and ability to live it up in my 20’s (a.k.a. traveling, partying, and attending music festivals). I moved every year (if not twice a year) from place to place, finding a spare room or room for rent from fellow coworkers in the industry who took the word “hospitality” to a whole other level. I did nothing in the “right” order, according to society’s guidelines, and spent a lot of time just living in the moment– but without any real purpose. I was young and fell into a toxic relationship that led to unhealthy drinking habits, which eventually led me into a run-in with the law. Though traumatic and humiliating, that experience is 100% what snapped me back into finding my purpose and knowing I deserved more.

It was only after being slapped in the face with the reality of my actions that I was able to turn every “mistake” and “wrong turn” into a lesson learned, and channel that energy into a means of motivation.

We’re taught to think reaching a goal is the reward, but really it’s the journey. It’s every flaw, failure, and shortcoming in your life that you decide will NOT be where your story ends.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I am officially a Content Creator and Sponsored Rollerskater by Pigeon’s Roller-skate Shop! I am best known for my tutorials on Instagram, but am definitely remembered for my energy and enthusiasm for life in general. Along with beginner roller skating tips and techniques, I throw in life lessons and motivational messages of positivity that go beyond the rollerskating world, encouraging the community to be themselves and be the best version of that person.

Because I am what’s known as a “Pandemic Skater”, a.k.a. a newly established skater who blossomed from quarantine boredom, what really distinguishes my page from other accounts is being able to scroll through and see my genuine journey— the ups and the MANY downs (literally, on the ground)— from day one to present day.

I pride myself upon living enthusiastically, authentically, and unapologetically while wholeheartedly sharing every experience that has made me the person I am now. Whether my platform was 3 or 36,000 people following me, the message would remain the same: know your worth, show up YOURSELF, & choose happiness every single day!

How do you define success?
To me, success is a combination of a sense of purpose and overall happiness: when you can wake up, not because you “have to,” but because you want to. It’s a balance of never settling for less, while having gratitude for wherever you are currently. I have never been one to equate success with the number zero’s in a bank account, but if you’re able to combine whatever your passion is with whatever pays your bills, I’d call that a success. But if you can just genuinely be happy with who you are and where you’re headed, that’s the real victory!

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Image Credits:

Melissa Ahamad

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