Monday, March 10, 2008

Fail: It Just Doesn’t Matter

Did you ever quit something because you were bad at it? Maybe it was drawing, riding a skateboard, or playing an instrument when you were younger. Maybe it is a relationship, a hobby, or a job now that you’re an adult. Regardless of what it is that you’re bad at, we can all agree that failure can make you feel pretty shitty – often shitty enough that you say “screw it” and you quit whatever it is you can’t make work.

Yesterday our B Team scrimmaged our Travel Team to gain some experience skating together as a team. The result was a clusterfuck, initial frustration on my part, and a lot of bruises (it’s been years since I’ve come away with this many bruises). Luckily, we weren’t counting points, which was good because just the general lack of success we experienced jam after jam was enough to make a grown woman cry.

I was the only vet skating with the B Team, and time and again I felt like I was the only person out there. Then I noticed that everyone else had to feel that way too, because we just weren’t working together. I won’t go into the areas in which we could improve, but it was almost enough to make you say “screw it,” and we probably would have if this wasn’t roller derby.

I started this blog some time ago when we had an influx of larger ladies join our league. Morale was low, and they wanted to quit, but day after day I talked them down. They all hung on for a bit, but about half of them did wind up quitting in the months to come, which I find sad, because even if you’re a known quitter, derby is something you can use to break that cycle and empower you to break that cycle in other aspects of your life as well.

Life’s not always easy, and as our B Team found out yesterday it can be downright cruel, but if there were nothing you could do to better yourself, then success wouldn’t be part of our vocabulary. Three years ago when my league formed, I know I played like the newbies I saw yesterday, but we all did. The frustration of being at the bottom of the skill ladder was frustrating, but you took comfort in the fact that everyone else around you was on the bottom rung as well. I’m sure that’s how many of our new girls feel now. I, on the other hand, am experiencing new frustration. Chalk it up to being old, but my frustration lied in the inability to control the chaos of others’ inexperience.

The good news is that I doubt anyone will quit over something like this. Like the chant Bill Murray lead with his fellow camp counselors and campers on the eve of their ass-kicking in the movie Meatballs: It just doesn’t matter. This may sound harsh or come off like I don’t give derby the respect it deserves, but it’s not meant to.

For the vast majority of us, derby’s a hobby. When it comes down to it, our losing a game or playing shitty just doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of life. That’s why derby’s a great launching pad for breaking the cycle of quitting; it’s somehow easier to overcome something difficult if the results either way aren’t life changing. This is why people quit following their dreams, but instead settle for mediocre jobs – it’s safe. And many people play their whole lives safe. Yet, derby is a place where you don’t have to do that, and that’s why so many people do succeed at derby – the failures along the way don’t mean as much, you learn from them, and you can actually achieve your goals. Actually, that’s something that can exist outside of derby too. You just have to change your perspective. The only thing standing in the way is your ego.

I have about 15 bruises all over my body from yesterday, but they, like failures, will fade in time, and I’ll be better for it – further along than I am today. Failure doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, I think you can learn more from failure than you can mediocrity and success. So let’s all get out there and fail. Hands together: 1-2-3... FAIL!

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