Roller Derby was a huge part of my life from 2008-2012 and now for the past 2017-2018. I’m what you might call an OG and I catch myself often talking about, “back in my day” stories like a grandfather talking about when ice cream cost a nickel and whippersnaps respected their elders. “Back in my day we jammed on the second whistle!”
I love it so much now, but the love is different mostly in part to a dramatic change in my relationship with myself. Let me explain.
When I left roller derby in 2012 I felt numb…not physically from paralysis, but my heart fell out of the sport. I felt drained, beat up, defeated, and apathetic to what I was once so firey and passionate about (my first two seasons I won MVP of the year and then I slowly slid into the background). I didn’t realize it back then but it wasn’t roller derby I had fallen out of love with, it was myself. So after a pretty epic game and a goodbye knee injury to see me off, I hung up my skates.
Fast forward to 2017. I had been practicing a lot of yoga in the past years and I became a life coach a few years after that. I was in a great spot mentally. I loved myself and my love went deep into spiritual practices. So much that, I wound up traveling to Iquitos Peru and took ayahuasca in the jungle with shamans for 11 days. The experience was magical and terrible and then magical again. It gave me access to different parts of myself I had been seeking to make contact with. More importantly it, along with my other mental tools, gave me a pretty balanced mind/emotion balance and an overall positive outlook on everything really. I felt really good, better than I had in a long time.
Early in the morning on the way back from the Miami airport, my husband and I pulled over to a gas station to fill up. I laid in the passenger seat half out of it when all of a sudden I heard a familiar voice yell out, “Hey, is that Yakuza?” I hadn’t heard that name in a while, and when I peeked my head up, there was my team. They were all sparkly and effervescent, fresh off of a win.
I got out of the car in a hazy disbelief. We were both hundreds of miles from Bradenton and happened to pull into to the same dive gas station at the same painfully early hour.
Hmm…I thought, that’s not a fucking coincidence. There’s something there.
Two weeks later I threw on my old skates for kick and thought, “Let’s see if that spark comes back.” It totally did. I was head over heels for Roller Derby again.
I was a bit cautious coming back because of how I felt when I had left, but as I stuck around I started to notice how I treated myself on the track was much different and boy did it impact my performance in the best of ways. Somethings I noticed:
I don’t compare myself and contrast myself to my teammates
Now it can definitely be productive to check in with your teammates, compare notes about strategy and things like that, but I used to use the glaring difference between me and my performance as ammo to shoot myself down and self flagellate. Nothing takes the wind out of your sails like a broken record in your head telling you you’re not good enough.
I gave myself credit, accepted compliments, and used criticism to grow
Have you ever tried to compliment someone sincerely and have them shake their head and disregard it?It’s a sucky feeling right? Well that was me. It’s interesting too because I wouldn’t allow any love in my life and yet I craved it like a drink of water in the desert. This caused me to be extremely perfectionist and shame myself if I messed up at all, which in turn caused me to be tense, negative, and very self absorbed.
I make a point to tell my teammates how awesome they are
I know now that positivity breeds positivity. Life can suck sometimes and we are all in this together, working through our own personal shit. Roller Derby should be something that uplifts us, makes us grow, and brings us closer. I believe this shift in positivity is because, well, I believe I’m awesome and so I can see it in others and gratuitously call it out.
I’m proud now that I give myself what I need emotionally and mentally because now I can be uplifting to my teammates rather than stuck in my head.
Roller derby is fucking cool any way you look at it. Strong, tatted woman supporting each other, working together in incredible displays of athleticism with comical, clever, and sexy monikers. What a brilliant thing to be a part of.
It’s said that roller derby can change the world and I believe that’s true, but on a more personal level, we have to be the change we wish to see in the world.
If you want more love, you have to create that within yourself. More compassion? Be kind to yourself and cut yourself a friggin break sometimes. You want an amazing awesome roller derby team?
Believe in yourself, believe in your team, cultivate a positive mindset and share that shit with everyone.
Namaste & Arigatou
Yakuza Girl #570