Break 

There’s something I haven’t read much or heard much through the grapevines, like it’s a taboo in the derby community. Yet, many skaters do it. It’s good for the mental as well as the physical state. 

Why is it taboo to take a break? 

From the team’s perspective, it might look like you’re slacking. Like you’re losing focus. Like life outside of derby seems so distant and foreign, why would you need to get back to it? Derby gives that feeling for a while that it can provide you with anything your heart wishes for. You have a supporting community, and a great physical outlet. 

I’ve come to see throughout my short time being involved in this amazing sport that derby can’t fill all the void. It certainly can’t give me the psychic effect I’m looking for. I don’t feel fulfilled every time I go to practice. It’s a fact. I love to feel satisfied when I accomplish a task. The task may be tedious, frustrating, exhausting but when I’m done, I like to feel good about myself. 

I learned with derby that I don’t feel good after every practice. I have practices that make me feel absolutely shitty. It’s ok. It’s part of being an athlete I guess. Or maybe I just need more solo skating time to feel accomplished instead of constantly comparing myself to others. 

I can’t ignore the signs. Is it okay to feel miserable? Is it like a rite of passage into the deeper layers of the derbyverse? Am I going to unlock some mysterious achievement once I suffer enough? 

Not at all. 

I’ve come too far and worked too hard on myself to feel shitty about anything I voluntarily choose to do on my spare time.

So time for a break has come. 

I don’t suck. I can do things. If it takes me ten years to do them, so be it. I simply can’t let external influences dictate my happiness. I have so many more things I have pushed to the side because derby had become my every day drug. 24/7. I only realized I was acting like a junkie when the high of the derby drug finally subsided and left me dry with bitterness and disappointment. 

I’m not condemning the derby community when I say these words. Derby is fabulous. But I have a life outside of derby. I’m a writer, and I have a fulfilling professional career in the legal industry. I learn new things daily and I want to stay inspired. I lose interest when I force myself to go through the motions without feeling any love for it. 

So it’s time for a break. Skating without any other goal than feeling accomplished. Trying new things and not competing against others, just challenging myself and beating my own personal best. I’m not there to prove anything to anyone. I’m just there to push myself and embrace the journey. 

I don’t want to lose my freedom. I’ve walked away from too many situations where I stayed too long and should have left sooner. Things aren’t going to get better by trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. 

I’m not saying goodbye forever. Who knows what might come my way. Right now though, it feels like the right thing to do. 

❤ 

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What’s left

Maybe I’m going all wrong about this. Maybe I had too many expectations. Maybe my enthusiasm blinded me for a while. I know my strengths and weaknesses. My main weakness is my mind. 

I can train as hard as I want, if my mind isn’t in the game, I’m toast. I can deflate like a balloon in less time than it takes me to take a deep breath. 

I can try to blame the skating conditions, the level of game play, my lacking skills, I can try to blame anything and everything under the sun but I can’t stall forever. My mind isn’t in the game right now. 

And the sad part is that my mind hasn’t been in the game for a while. Even when I thought I was in the game, my mind had already checked me off. 

I’m always trying to recreate the feelings I felt during my very first scrimmage. I had no expectations then. I just went out there and gave them hell. I felt so powerful. I felt like I could do anything. Then came more scrimmages and my feelings were never the same as that first one. Like the addict that I am, I’ve been desperately trying to reexperience that high ever since. And I can’t. Scrimmages always feel different. Some are good, some are not. But these feelings just can’t be recreated again. 

Many reasons: my skills have improved despite my silent low self esteem protest that they didn’t. The players I go against have also improved. 

I’m chasing something that is long gone. I don’t know how to overcome that. I haven’t felt that same level of high since. Not during scrimmage at least. I felt that high while skating outdoors. I felt that sense of “I can do anything” many times outdoors. Even when my skating session didn’t feel like I had accomplished much, I never left defeated. I never left thinking I didn’t really want to come back for more. I never left feeling there wasn’t a new challenge I wouldn’t master, even if it took me years to tame it. 

I don’t know how to beat my mind. Not this time. I beat my mind out of feeling bored, out of feeling angry, sad, depressed. I beat my mind all the time. This time though, it also feels like my heart doesn’t want to fight. All the love I feel for this sport makes my heart ache so much thinking I don’t feel like being a part of it anymore. 

I have to face that reality though. I love skating. I don’t think I will ever give that up, just like running or writing. I can take a break, but I can never quit. 

Derby is not just skating. Derby is the game I love to watch late at night on my iPad before going to sleep. Derby is full of strategy, and power. Derby makes me jump in my seat… as a spectator. 

Derby also pulls me out of my comfort zone. Derby makes me anxious. Derby makes me feel so sad, sometimes too. 

I don’t feel anxious when I’m skating on my own and practice new tricks. I don’t even feel scared either. I’m not afraid of hitting and getting hit. I overcame that fear a long time ago. I feel anxious when it’s me and other people though. I feel watched, assessed, judged. I feel like I’m giving it my all and it’s still not good enough. I feel like I’m hitting this wall and I can never break it. 

My mind is telling me all those things, and I believe them. I’m awake yet I’m so tired. I’m writing, crying, feeling like I must make a decision… at 6 am. 

I feel like I’ve lost my fire. I feel like I’ve grown bored. I feel unmotivated. 

So what’s left? 

I honestly couldn’t tell you right now.