I haven’t been able to go to practice all that much lately, and it really sucks. Mostly because the longer I stay away, the worse I am when I do return. So because I’ve gone only twice in the last four weeks, I’m starting to worry that the few skills I have acquired are starting to drip away.
Case in point: Last night I accidentally went to a Travel Team tryouts practice (I thought it would be the normally scheduled Tuesday speed skating practice) and got my ass handed to me.
Sure, I should be proud of myself for:
- Not running out the door as soon as I heard what practice really was that night
- Not running out the door as soon as I realized I’d forgotten my blister-proof ankle booties
- Sticking it out the entire practice, even though I had to stop for a few minutes in the middle of each exercise
- Not crying with frustration at the fact that people who joined the league after me are now better than me
I don’t know what it is. I already know that I can’t compare myself to anyone else, but there’s still a nagging feeling that irritates me when I struggle. Why am I not better than this? Why is it so difficult for me? It’s just the pride, I know. But rookie pride? I don’t really have anything to cry about yet, I just started. Try complaining when you’ve been in it for a few years and still feel like you suck …
(don’t worry, I’m sure that’ll happen to me too!)
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Recently, a derby friend of mine injured her hand during a scrimmage. Luckily she didn’t break anything, but her fingers were pretty severely bruised and banged up. Was it the Art Hand or the Labor Hand? I asked her. For me, my Art Hand does the drawing, the mousing, the writing, the eating. The Labor Hand does the heavy lifting, the left side of the keyboard, the holding. The Art Hand, she replied. Ugh. Not long after that, I met a fellow female comicker who said she, too, loved derby and wished she could do it.
“Why don’t you?” I asked, prepared to launch into my speech about how if I could learn how to skate and derby, anyone could learn how to skate and derby.
“Because I can’t risk injuring my hand,” she replied, somewhat with an air of “duh” behind it. Oh yeah – that.
I try not to think about impending injury in general where derby is concerned, but specifically not my Art Hand. Besides the fact that I trust all of my day job to my Art Hand, I also trust it with my comic work – paid and unpaid. Now that I’m officially working for a publisher, maybe I should consider that a bit more. Am I being stupid, staying in derby? I try to convince myself that no, people can injure their Art Hand doing any number of things. You could get hit by a car (my coworker did) while crossing the street, fall awkwardly on it while tripping over something in the road, any number of normal every-day activities could result in injury, right? I played volleyball for years and saw my share of breaks and sprains and came out unscathed.
So am I being reckless and unsafe? Maybe. But I love derby and I worked too hard to get here – I’m not giving it up for fear alone. If I have to get injured at some point, my fingers are crossed for a knee injury. A nice, safe knee injury.
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It suddenly occurred to me at scrimmage practice this week that I wasn’t afraid any more. At first I was the usual bundle of jitters, avoiding lining up so I wouldn’t have to go in, obsessively going over in my head what I always do wrong. But after the 2nd half, it suddenly struck me – I was no longer terrified.
I started scrimmaging in November of last year, and up until now it’s been a vicious cycle of confusion, fear of getting knocked down, frustration at seeing what I’m supposed to be doing and not doing that, and elation when something clicks and I figure out what I’m doing. I’ve never looked forward to scrimmaging and the thought of it usually made me want to turn around and go home. It’s difficult training for something for months and finally being able to do it, and realizing how much harder it is than you’d ever thought it would be. Oh yeah – and the fact that you can never get better unless you keep doing that thing you’re terrified of.
Luckily I was warned at my first scrimmage that it would be the worst I’d ever feel in derby. All of a sudden so much would be going on and I’d feel like a big, slow-moving target, teasing the other team to take me down. And that’s exactly how I felt (unfortunately, that scrimmage just happened to be opened to friends and potential skaters, too, so everyone could see the trouble I was having). Since then I’ve tried to convince myself that I get a little better every time. Or that if I just finish one jam having done one thing right, I’ll be okay. And luckily, I got drafted to a team that doesn’t yell at me too much when I do something wrong.
So I’m not saying I’m magically better and that it still won’t be hard as shit to improve at derby, but I can proudly say I’m no longer scared. I’ve met a couple of fresh meats out there who avoided scrimmaging altogether once they were eligible, sometimes putting it off for months. I just want to let them know – it does get better, it does start to click!
And I’ll pass along the best advice I’ve gotten recently –
Don’t say “sorry” when you hit me, say “SHAZAAM!”
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