January 31, 2013

Big Girls Don't Cry

I'm a crier.  I cry all the time, but no one would actually know this because I'm super embarrassed about it.  Seriously, I cried last week during Indiana Jones.  I guess one time in my very reserved childhood I saw this girl crying about something incredibly silly (like her nail broke or whatever) and she then proceeded to throw herself into the arms of this boy she had a crush on, just for the attention.  At this moment (I must have been 10) in my life I decided that if I ever had to cry, like any self-respecting member of the female gender I would lock myself in a bathroom and do it the old-fashioned way- by myself in the comfort of my own shattered self-esteem.  I would sob my little heart out, wipe my tears, and then parade out of the bathroom with my head held high like nothing had even phased me. This week, I learned I how stupid this was.

A few weeks ago we had our Thursday Scrimmage Practice and although we have it every week, this one really stuck to me.  Thursday Scrimmage Practice is always just a little more intense than our regular league practice.  People become nervous, excited, and frustrated very quickly because of the expectations that we set for ourselves.  We all feel like we have to something to prove at every scrimmage, and if we do poorly, we beat ourselves up about it.

At this particular Thursday Scrimmage, we were discussing as a team what our positions would be and how the expectation was for everyone to jam at least once, no matter what your regular position is.  We do this to encourage people to get outside their comfort zone and learn something new.  As we were talking about this I heard someone pipe up.  A fellow teammate started saying how nerve-racking jamming was for her, how it was incredibly difficult, and how she went through a panic-attack when she even thought about jamming.  This confession brought her to tears.  You could see how scared and frustrated she was and how the expectations she had put on herself had brought her to this point.  As she was opening her heart to us I thought, "This girl is braver than I ever knew."  

This courageous girl had been scared to share her feelings with us, but had done it anyway.  This act of strength revealed to me that as different as each and every one of us are, we are a family.  We're not "roller derby sisters," we're real sisters, and we are responsible for the culture of our league.  This moment inspired me to seek a change in the roller derby culture as a whole.  We use words like "tough" and "badass" to describe what kind of people we are, but what do these words really mean?  We have adopted in this sport that they mean things like "fearless," "shut up and skate," and "get your ass on the track."  But to me, "tough" and "badass" mean being scared and getting on the track anyway.  It means taking those fears that you have and being open about them.

Having insecurities about yourself as a player has always been looked down upon. We're so used to shoving all of our fears to the back of our mind that instead of being confident, we're just pretending to be confident. Let's change this by starting a conversation about what we're afraid of and then listening to our fellow sisters. Your roller derby sisters are there to support and strengthen you, so bring your fears on the track with you and defeat them there; on the battlefield.  You have all the warriors you need right next to you.

The Original Skankster