I’m happy to say that I survived week three. Not only did I survive, but I have an increased confidence and excitement; two things that were quickly retreating from my life.
You might remember that I injured my quad last week, and was hard core bummin’. The good news is by Friday I was able to work out carefully, and I got in a lot of good workouts throughout the week. I was on my skates all day yesterday, the day of practice, and feeling pretty good about my balance and overall improved one-ness with them.
But something was still holding me back. I felt like I didn’t want to go to practice. I was a hair away from skipping, and justifying it with the idea that I can be on my skates all week at home and improve my confidence and balance. I can go skate this weekend!
All that is bullshit. Nothing, NOTHING is going to be the same as going and practicing at the practice space. With other women. On those shitty floors. I made myself go.
How can you be excited about something and really want to do it, but still have to make yourself go? Fear? Nerves? Just plain old crazy?
Well, we know I’m crazy, so we will shove that to the side for now.
There are two conclusions I came to. I was afraid, and I was nervous. These two things left me completely unable to relax, to enjoy doing what I have been wanting to do for close to two years.
I was afraid of that shitty floor. That glorious, wonderful, shitty floor. I was afraid of getting tripped up in a crack and falling. I was afraid of the dip around one of the turns that I fall into every time, causing me to accelerate faster than I felt comfortable. I was completely focused on the floor. Not on my body. How the skates feel on my feet, and how it feels to just skate. To get lower, to lean into the turns. These are the things I should have been focusing on.
So I made the conscious decision to go out there and just skate. To not give a shit about the floor, or what anyone thought of me. To relax and let myself fall. To let myself feel what it feels like to skate on that floor. And you know what? It worked. When I focused on everything but the floor and I was golden. Not a great skater by any means, but I was comfortable. When I focused on the floor, I fell. So I got back up, and I kept going.
Okay, so you have the general nerves associated with doing something new and different. It occurred to me on the way to practice, though, that I was nervous around the other skaters. I cannot even begin to tell you how absolutely ridiculous it is to be nervous around these women. First of all, the other new skaters are just that. New skaters. We are all in the same boat, and even those skaters who are more seasoned, or better, or whatever, have their own shit going on. Everyone who is there has been new to derby at some point. Even the league skaters. It is easy to be intimidated by the league skaters. They are so.good. They make it look like it is effortless. But they are there to teach us. “When I started, I couldn’t even stand up on skates,” they say. “In a few months, you will be skating like this too. Now get your butt LOWER!” And we do, because we want to be just like them when we grow up.
I realized that I wasn’t really talking to anyone unless I had to. What is THAT about? I’m an outgoing person. If I want to, I can take charge of a room. Own it. Command it.
While I don’t want to own or command anything but myself and my performance while skating or playing, I really did underestimate how important it was to tap into that part of myself and go in feeling friendly and confident. So, I talked. I struck up conversations with other skaters, new and from the league. And it felt good to connect. To feel like regardless of my ability, I belonged there. Because I do belong there.
Sometimes we need to just surrender to our fears and nerves and say, “Either I’m going to do this, or I’m not, and I am willing to accept the outcome of the choices I have made.” I know I made the right choice last night to keep going. To shut up and skate. I went. I skated. I fell. I conquered – my fears, my derby future, and myself.