This month marks my first year anniversary since joining derby.
I’ve had a relatively smooth ride as a roller girl. Since I’d skated as a child, I didn’t have to climb that mountain. I was bumped up to intermediate practice without having to formally take the basic skills test and I’ve made every roster that I’ve been eligible for.
Things have come easily to me, and many times I’ve wondered how well I’d deal with bumps in the road.
When I found out I hadn’t made the team for Tattoo Freeze, I went through three phases.
First I felt depressed.
“I suck, I should just quit roller derby,” I thought to myself. About three milliseconds after that thought had been voiced, the rational side of my mind was laughing at me. “Yeah, right. You wouldn’t last a week.”
Fair enough. That was self-pity out of the way.
Next came anxiety. Everyone knew I'd been hoping to get on the team. Were they feeling sorry for me? Were they relieved? Was that why they were being so nice to me? Were they watching everything I did and analysing it to see if I was bitter? I forced a smile onto my face. It probably looked like a grimace.
After about five minutes of that, I remembered that other people’s lives do not, in fact, revolve around me, and my not making the team was a tiny blip on their radar. They probably gave it half a second’s thought, if they actually noticed at all.
And so anxiety too was set aside.
That allowed rational thought to be heard. Once the emotional cloud had cleared, I came to to a realisation.
Here’s the thing: making the team does not prove my worth as a skater. Sure, only good skaters make the team, but not making the team doesn’t make me a bad skater. It’s not a test where if I work really hard I’ll definitely pass. Whether or not I get on the team is dependent on a lot of variables, many of which I have absolutely no control over.
A roller derby team needs different kinds of players. It needs a certain ratio of blockers to jammers and of hard hitters to dodgers. Some players are able to pull off a particular tactic flawlessly, some players work better together than others.
Sometimes my particular skills aren’t going to be what the team needs, and that’s okay.
In the end, I don’t want to just ‘make the team’. I want a skater that makes the team better.
So here are my tips if you don’t make the cut-off: indulge your bad mood for a little while. Wallow in your own self pity. Then get over it. Stay clear-headed and try to improve.
And if that doesn’t work? You know what to do.