Total lack of control… that is where the fear came from the first time I put on my roller skates in October 2014. I was surprised by how the fear consumed me as soon as we were told to “stand up” in our skates. I considered myself a mediocre ice skater, skating on the local pond at an early age with my hand-me-down figure skates. At 31, I finally bought myself a pair of new ice skates and enjoyed going to the rink for free skate with my family once or twice last year. But I wasn’t ready physically or mentally for what I experienced that first time I did up my laces back in October.
Fear. It’s a powerful emotion that plays a harsh role in your feelings of self-worth and overall confidence. I was shocked by my negative feelings and to be completely honest: I was ashamed. I mean I went to bootcamps five times a week, lost 40 pounds, and ran half marathons but my quads were screaming at me to stop and soon my toes and arches of my feet followed suit. The sweat was pouring off me like raindrops. It was A LOT harder than I had ever assumed. I wasn’t even fully standing yet. Would my legs give out? Where did my core strength go? Could I not balance my body weight on wheels? I hadn’t even moved forward. I was paralyzed by this fear, feeling like a complete failure as I saw others just zoom past my sorry, pathetic self.
I started telling myself I could at least try and not give up. There was no shame in trying. I reminded myself of the quote by Franklin D. Roosevelt: “The only thing to fear is fear itself.” Living in fear means you remain in your comfort zone and avoid taking the risks that could lead to the greatest successes of your life. Derby was my risk. Even though I am a bit of a “work in progress” skater, once I let go of my initial fear, it truly opened my life to this wonderful experience, group of people, and support system. I am still my world’s worst critic, but I know how far I’ve come and look forward to the rest of this roller derby journey.
Each practice I simply remind myself: All you have to do is tie your laces, get up, and try.