Roller Derby is amazing. We get to skate and hit people and its so much fun. Though Social Anxiety is not so amazing – especially when you’re a roller derby league member. Let me take you through the pro’s and con’s of being a roller girl with crippling social anxiety. We’ll start with con’s (or is it cons. I never was great with grammar).
- Fund raising: As a non-profit league member we need to raise funds. That’s totally fine with me, but there’s nothing scarier than actually having to interact with the public, or spam my facebook timeline to ask for money. Imagine standing in a busy street and being harassed by some scumbags? I’d rather saw my arms off.
- Being a fAthlete at training: I’m very clearly overweight and insecure about it. Off skates training yesterday was torture. We were doing a hard Insanity workout after an hour of derby training. I was so tired and unfit I could have cried. To make it even worse, there were guys passing through the sports centre shouting. At least one of those guys shouted directly at us. I didn’t hear what he said, but automatically assumed it was directed at me (even though there were over 30 other people there). Every time a group passed, I had a huge inner freak-out and had to work through the panting and at least make it look like I was capable of doing the exercises. I despise the generalization that fat people can’t exercise. The last thing I need is some asshole commenting on “the fat, unfit, panting roller girl who keeps falling”. I can assure you, I’d get very aggressive and fall over in attempt to skate over and plant my toe stop in their pee-hole – which brings me to my next topic:
- Stage Fright: I’m not talking about bout anxiety, but I will talk about that when I reach bouting level. I mean literally freezing up at the slightest sign of being noticed. I’m perfectly okay when people who actually skate are watching me, since they know how hard it can be. But when passers by decide to stop and watch us (which is totally understandable), I lose my ability to move myself off the floor. I mean, I totally turn into Bambi rollerskating on ice. Even getting up hurts. There have been times where moving off the floor was impossible. Sometimes I even need to sit down to compose myself again.
- Fear of being disliked: This one is obvious, and most, if not all social anxiety sufferers experience this. Something as simple as someone not saying “hi” to you at training, sends negative thoughts flying round your head. “They hate me.”, “Who else hates me?”, “Do they talk about me behind my back?”, “What have I done to make them hate me?”, “I’m useless.”, “Does anyone even like me?”, “I feel like an outsider”, “Maybe I should just quit…”. There are MANY more thoughts that run through my overly paranoid mind but listing them all would take months. Of course, people probably have no reason to dislike me, but this bloody condition seems to be trying to make me see myself as the enemy!
- Failure & being judged: I fall a lot, I have a few skills that need work, and I have only just reached double figures in my time trials. This isn’t too much of a problem as I can work on them and eventually be a prodigy, but I hate falling in front of spectators. I feel as if they are laughing at me and see me as useless. I worry that the other skaters see me as an inconvenience that shouldn’t be there. Even though they have told me that I’ll be a great skater.
- Communication: Roller derby requires you to communicate with other skaters during a scrimmage. If there’s no communication, there’s no team. I, however, struggle immensely with this. I never know what to say, or how to say it. And shouting is not easy for me unless I’m doing it to avoid murdering someone. I did a drill yesterday where I was pretty much commentating on everything while it was happening. I tried my absolute best as I knew how quiet I can be. It seems my default volume level goes up to a loud sneeze. I must work on that…
- “What the hell am I gonna wear?!!”: The standard attire for roller derby is fishnets and booty shorts. But what if you’ve got too much booty for your shorts? I constantly worry if I’ll be too fat to wear shorts or a tank top – or if I’d look like a twit in a skirt. Right now I’m sticking with the safe option of a t-shirt and 3/4 length pants. Though there’s still the panic of “I hope I didn’t miss a spot while shaving”.
That’s enough of the social anxiety horror stories, now lets talk about the great, amazing and sometimes therapeutic aspects of roller derby.
- You can’t fail: Sure, you can fail the minimum skills, but it’s not a test you only take once. You can repeat it, just like a driving test. The minimum skills requirements get changed so often too so it sometimes needs to be repeated by people who have passed already too.
- The ego boost after perfecting a skill or beating your record in time trials: Sufferers of SA usually feel useless. I did, at everything when I started skating. Now, although I’m usually on the floor, though 80% less than when I started, I find myself cheering and doing a little victory dance every time I perfect a skill. The best thing is, no matter how good you are, there’s always room for improvement. This means more victory dances! I love how amazing I feel after every personal record I beat. That alone is the main reason I love derby.
- Your ass is your asset: As the owner of some serious ghetto booty, I liked hearing this. If you have an ass that takes up half the track, you’ll be a great blocker.
- No size discrimination: Yay! There are many different shapes and sizes in derby, and each one is as great as the next. Finally, there’s a sport where I feel accepted.
- The amazing people: Maybe its just my experience, but the girls in my league are fucking awesome. Everybody is so different but like a family at the same time. I’ve made some good friends there and its nice to be around other girls for a change.
- Bouts!: I love bouts. The atmosphere, the entertainment, and the merch stalls. One can never have too much derby merch. Our usual commentator is hilarious too so the laughter just flows!
- NSOing the shit out of a bout: Being a non-skating official sounds boring, but its not. Sure we have paperwork to do but we learn so much. There’s always something new to learn from interacting with ref’s and watching particular skaters. The hard part is trying to stop yourself cheering for a particular team. I sometimes find myself in awe of certain skaters and forget I’m not allowed cheer..
- It takes control of your life: You think about it 24/7 – even if you think you suck. You’re constantly saving up for some new wheels or something skate related, and you can no longer drink on a Saturday unless you’re willing to die on track the following morning – but its worth it
To summarize this post; get yo’ ass to derby!