Teddy Roosevelt is credited with saying “Comparison is the thief of joy.” This statement rings as true in the world of roller derby as it does everywhere else. Derby is full of strong people, but even with all that strength, we can still have our anxieties. We compare ourselves to others, even though our journeys are not identical. Sometimes, we refuse to celebrate or even acknowledge our own progress because it isn’t as great as another’s. Rather than compare ourselves with where we were yesterday, last month, or last year, we instead compare ourselves to those we wish to emulate.
I love to tell my fresh meat skaters “own your progress.” Freshies tend to be quick to beat themselves up when they struggle with mastering a new skill (or the dreaded five minute endurance lap count). They fixate on the things that they cannot get the hang of and forget all about the things they can do now, things that they couldn’t do when they first put on skates, or how much faster, lower, harder they can perform these skills. Not meeting the minimum skills requirement for scrimmage safety is more often dubbed “failure” rather than a measure of progress. That’s horsefeathers, rubbish, bunk, poppycock!
After I didn’t pass my minimum skills assessment at the end of fresh meat boot camp, I was assigned a mentor to help build me up before my second chance at the assessment. Roof’s On Fire (retired Brawlstar and now a mom of two super cute bundles) gave me some advice that still resonates with me today. She told me that this derby journey is MINE. It doesn’t have to mimic the other freshies, my future teammates, or anyone else’s. She told me not to waste mental energy worrying whether I was attending as many practices as Skater-A or that I can’t complete as many laps as Skater-B. What she said was most important, was that I accomplish MY goals – not someone else’s. It seems so simple, yet so many skaters struggle with this concept (even well beyond fresh meat boot camp).
I have a lot of admiration for our Brawlstars. I am proud to be a member of a league that is climbing the ranks in flat track roller derby. I am honest enough to admit that I’d love to be able to do some of the amazing things they are able to do on skates….but I am also honest enough to admit that I might/might not have the physical ability and definitely don’t have the level of dedication or the time to devote to achieving those things. Many (most, even) skaters are hyper-competitive. However, being competitive does not mean that you have to strive for nirvana (read “World Cup”). You can compete at a level that fits your skill or that fits your life. I’m thrilled that I get to do both with the Vigilantes.
We can all contribute to the advancement of our teams, our league and ourselves. I like to think that what I might lack on the track, I more than make up for in other areas. I use my administrative skills in my role as Co-Captain of the Vigilantes and as Head of Training for A2D2. I use my nurturing personality and desire to help people see their own potential as our league’s fresh meat trainer. I can be OK at roller derby and still be a great asset to our league.
Skim MILF is co-captain of the Ypsilanti Vigilantes and way more awesome than your mom.