Derby Blues

377e1e5Let’s just say that I wanted to kick my helmet across the rink yesterday. Yes, it was one of those nights. Nothing went wrong really. Yet, everything felt wrong for me. It was one of those nights where I cried on the way home, asking myself the usual existential questions.

Roller derby, I love you. Roller derby, I hate you.

I remember reading this article by Quiet Storm about her hate letter to derby. If you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, you should give it a go. I read this post very shortly after I started roller derby. My passionate love story with derby had just begun, and felt way too magical for such a post to really have an impact on me, so I read it, and then let it go.

Last night, I read it again, and it resonated with me. Positive talk can only go so far. I’m a big advocate of staying positive, that’s my mojo. Yesterday however, I felt like no positive talk could save me from the crap load of frustration I was dealing with.

Truth is I’ve been having anxiety about practice. It’s a normal thing for me to have the butterflies before going, because stuff seems so insurmountable. When I started, I was nervous about skating, minimum skills, and the 27/5. Now, I’m nervous about tryouts, and scrimmages. I’m sure at some point I’m gonna be nervous about bouting. Weekend long tournaments. The list never ends.

I’m not strong on confidence to begin with, especially if I’m out of my comfort zone. I started derby because I wanted to skate. I wanted to learn how to be good on wheels. I took the challenge and went with it. Fearful, I became fearless, and battled my way through just like any other skater before me did. I don’t believe in talent as much as I believe in hard work. Derby is no different. With enough practice and dedication, anyone can become a star.

I practice what I preach. I show up to practice religiously unless work or a family event prevents me from coming. I take derby seriously. I NSO, I volunteer, I do whatever it is I have to do to support my league.

Despite all that, derby is the kind of battle that leaves me hopeless sometimes. It’s the kind of battle I wonder why I’m fighting so hard. Derby keeps asking me to give, and give some more… Truth is not everyone becomes an all-star.

Some said derby saved their souls. I really believe derby saved me too. Yet, today I feel so resentful toward it. On top of my anger, I feel guilty for hating the sport I also love so goddamn much.

That’s how I stumbled upon the hate letter to derby. I always ask Google for answers when I feel down. Google gives me what I need! In this case, I spent my post-practice late, late night reading blogs and posts from skaters who felt just the same as me. Whether they were freshies, rookies, or accomplished vets, I read their words and felt their sadness. The derby love was tainted with so much frustration. Big questions were asked: “What are my priorities?” was the main one. “Is derby my life?”, “Do I need to really kill myself for this?” expressed the same concern.

These questions made me ask myself questions.

What is my motivation in all of this? Why do I feel suddenly so defeated, and frustrated?

I took an inventory of my progress, and how it related to my feelings. It’s clear to me my honeymoon with derby has ended. I’m back to earth now. I see derby’s imperfections. I get impatient with derby. I don’t want to give it time, I want it now, and I want it bad! My skill set continues to improve, but when comes scrimmage time, I feel inadequate. I feel invisible. I feel unimportant. I feel like me leaving the track won’t change the outcome of the game. Whether I play or not, my team is fine without me.

This hurts. I’m not casting the blame at anyone when I say this. No one made me feel like this. I feel like this because derby got real. My relationship with derby is being tested, just like any relationship. Nothing stays in the pink cloud forever. I have to eat crap in derby, just like I do at my job, and anything else I undertake. That’s how commitment is tested. You endure the bad, you enjoy the good.

Success is built on failure. Success is built on disappointment, and frustration. My willingness to keep pushing past this will determine whether I stick around or not. I’m full of insecurities, but I’m very stubborn. If I want something, I will work toward it.

The negative Nancy voice comes strong in times like these too. I’m hungry for derby, yet I’m underfed. I have my frustrations with people, just like anyone else. I have my frustrations with how much game time I manage to get, and how my performance is affected by this squeeze of time I feel I’m stealing because… I’m just not good enough.

Deep down, I know I’m good, though. There lies the paradox. I know I’m doing everything in my power to be the best at it. I train, and cross-train, and skate, and practice… And I know I can do things. I’ve seen it when I check our practice footage. I really can DO things.

I don’t care so much about competing as I care about having fun. Because that’s what derby’s about, right? Fun?

There’s maybe too much crap on my plate. I need a reset somewhere. I need to just skate and find freedom there. I try not to think about making the team, and being rostered, and all that stuff. That stuff kills my joy of coming to practice and letting it all on the track.

Because in the end, I just want to skate.

***

Follow me on Instagram @kikindateef

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