I’m a solid month-and-a-half into my “derby career.” Lots of ups and downs, but I generally hold the belief that derby is fun. When I was just a fan, I held all the derby women up to a very high standard of bad-assness, and I still hold myself and those ladies up to that standard. So yeah… I’m still in love with derby.
But sometimes – and I’ve talked about this before – sometimes I don’t feel like I’m that bad-ass. Some days – usually after I’ve studied for the bar exam for 6 hours and worked a 9-5 before practice – some days I feel like I don’t deserve to be there. I shit on myself (not literally) for not being able to do a perfect plow stop yet, or a hockey stop. I curse at myself for not understanding strategy or weird phrases like “eating the baby”.
No, derby is not easy right now. Not at all. But then again, nobody said it would be.
Fresh meat anxiety is a tad bit different from boot camp anxiety. Back then, I was looking forward to the measuring stick of tryouts. Now that I’ve overcome that hurdle, I’m in a weird derby-purgatory-transition-phase where I’m not brand new but I’m not that experienced. I assume everyone from boot camp who made the league is now skating at different levels. I don’t know if any other freshie is shooting ahead of me, skills-wise, because I am too busy working on my own shit to notice. But, because this post is about my emo anxiety, I’ll just assume that every freshie has now advanced far beyond my meager skills, and is now jumping the apex and prepping for Team USA tryouts. Because anxiety.
Okay, okay – I’m exaggerating a bit and I mostly feel happy when I’m skating because it’s a huge stress reliever. But those flashes of insecurity linger in the back of my mind, and I always read online about derby girl anxiety. It’s a real thing – people do derby to feel better about themselves, but sometimes they only end up feeling worse.
So here’s how I deal with it: First thing I do is look down at my skates. Because I’m on fucking skates. And skates are FUN. And that’s why I’m doing this – for FUN. I know derby is a sport, and some people would argue that it’s a “serious” sport and therefore words like “fun” should be punished by flogging, but fuck them because I’m doing derby because it is FUN. And when it’s not fun, I need to reevaluate some shit because I’m too grown to be doing something depressing with all my free time.
With that being said, the second thing I do is find the source of my anxiety. Most of the time, it’s just little old pessimistic me saying all kinds of evil shit to myself in my own head. Everyone else around me is more than likely smiling and being super helpful and generally awesome, but the anxiety inside of me is telling my I suck. This little evil voice will transform seemingly normal convos into something that sounds like this:
Awesome Teammate: Hey, B.B., when you plow, try this! *does a plow stop* It may help. *smiles*
EVIL VOICE TRANSLATION: Hey, bitch, betcha can’t do this. *does plow stop* YOU SUCK. *cackles*
Me: *lip quivers* Thanks.
So yeah, once I realize that I’m bat-shit crazy, it’s all greener pastures from that moment forward.
The next thing I do is actually listen. Whenever someone stops what they’re doing to give me advice, I appreciate it because they aren’t saying this to benefit anyone except me. As freshies, we’re lucky to get such specialized attention. Next year, I may not get that same treatment. It’s smart to listen and soak up all the knowledge I can.
The last step in dealing with my anxiety is to JUST FUCKIN’ DO IT ALREADY. No fear, just bust some shit out and see what happens. The worst thing that can happen is that I fall, and what’s the big deal about that? During the toe-stop debacle (I wrote about it a couple of weeks ago) one of my fave teammates was like, “Just fall, dude. You’ve got on pads. Just go for it.” And when I did, it made a world of difference.