Hey Perseverance

I have something to confess:  There are some days, as many as a couple a week in a tough week, when I seriously think about quitting derby.  Sometimes no more than a fleeting thought, sometimes more.

It’s not because I don’t love it (I do!), or because I’m not having fun (I am!), or for any of the other reasons that certainly could push someone to quit derby. What gets hold of me on those days is something like a rock in my stomach; the realization that I’m working SO hard — on the track, in the gym, on the trails outside running, skating and on the bike, doing hard offskates workouts even on practice days  — and yet despite all that, good derby still feels so far away for me.  The feeling of struggling so hard only to still feel like I’m trailing the team/league is crushing. Watching my teammates build fearsome derby bodies and minds in training is thrilling, but it’s also just hard sometimes to feel left behind.  Yes, I know it’s not about keeping up with people.  Or about being fastest or smallest or quickest off the line, and yes I know I bring different skills to the table. But being at the back of the pack in a group run, every time? It fucking sucks.

You could say I have a history of avoiding this sort of struggle, bailing out of activities that require this much work just to be mediocre. Most sports growing up, definitely dance, my super-science-intensive undergraduate program, etc.  I’m trying to learn to appreciate the effort and the incremental changes that I know I’m making, but there are days when it takes a really firm digging-in of the heels (and the encouraging words of teammates) not to walk away from derby.

I thought I’d have a bit of a leg up with roller derby as opposed to other sports because of the skating, but lots of girls started with a lot less experience on skates 8 months ago and have already surpassed my skills. They’re leaner, faster, (younger, for the most part) more agile, and their bodies respond to training much more quickly. I can work my ass off training for a few months and still find I’m behind everyone else… and I have to be ok with that, or I can’t do derby. The work is long-term, and has to be as much about the day-to-day as it is about goals — which will COME, in their own time.

But I do love it. As elusive as it might be, I love it and it’s worth it, and so is the effort.

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  1. I’ve had these feelings too. I sometimes feel so frustrated when I make every effort to go to practice, work hard, etc., and then people who missed a couple of weeks come back and everything comes so easily to them! I wish I could be that person, but I know when it comes to sports, I won’t be.

    I also thought I would have had a head start because I could already skate when I started. Then I wound up behind in Fresh Meat, and that was so frustrating. It felt like I was back playing middle school sports. I still get that feeling sometimes during Wednesday and Saturday scrimmage practices as well (the school yard pick last Saturday was a bit demoralizing).

    But I’ve had breakthroughs. There have been times where I have been on the track and everything comes together, and it feels amazing. I know I just have to work hard to make those moments come more often.

    Sorry this is so long. I guess your post really hit a nerve with me too. In short, I relate, and I have to keep realizing that I know the breakthroughs will keep coming, and I will keep improving. I also know that you are not afraid to work hard and improve either. Your drive is rather inspiring. See you tonight.

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