Why Can’t I Quit You, Roller Derby?

Ok, right up front, I am telling you that I’m NOT quitting roller derby.  However, the last couple months have been tough.  For various reasons, I’ve considered hanging up my skates, even though I’ve only been skating for not quite a year (it will be a year at the end of April, so that’s close enough for government work, right?).  I’ve certainly seen other ladies come and go in the league over that short period of time, I’ve come to terms with my social anxiety issues (well, I’m working on them…), and I’ve made a few friends (just fyi, I’m a horrible friend, so if you’re reading this, I’m sorry you’re my friend, but I love you anyway so you’ll just have to put up with my horribleness).  I’ve survived a year’s worth of derby drama (what? Roller derby drama?  No way!!!), and I’ve worked really hard on my skating skills (I advanced from the red to yellow skill level – hooray!).  I feel like derby has changed my life.  But, and this is the part that is hard to admit, derby is not my life.

I’ve read so much about women who’s “souls were saved by roller derby”, and who just won’t give up for anything, no matter what the pain, what the circumstances, what the obstacle.  It’s hard for me to admit that I am not like these women, although I think that when I started derby a year ago I wanted to be…and in that respect, that’s where I feel like I have failed.  I have started feeling like a slacker in the derby girl department.

Don’t get me wrong – I love skating, I’ve seen personal growth, and have made some achievements I’m proud of.  But I’ve come to the conclusion that being a competitive derby skater is probably not sustainable for me at this point in my life; the work-life-derby balance is way off.  I just turned 40, am going back to school, have a stressful 40+ hour a week job, and I don’t have the time to beat myself up about not making attendance, volunteer hours, all the meetings, and any other requirements it takes for skaters to become green-level and bout-cleared.  And if I’m really being honest, even if I continued busting my ass to make all those requirements, I’m not sure I’ll ever be green and bout-cleared; I’m just not sure I will ever achieve that skill level.

But here’s the thing – I can’t quit derby.  I love skating too much, and it’s really most of the exercise I get.  I love the camaraderie.  I love how supportive the women in our league can be.  My assistant coach, Next of Ken, has been my personal cheerleader and has helped me achieve so much growth and success.  But if I go to drop-in status, I feel like I’ll lose a lot of those things that I love about derby.  So my compromise: I will still be a dues-paying member and will do my best to attend all the on-skates practices (and off-skates and meetings when I can).  I will have to accept the fact that I probably won’t make my attendance and volunteer hour requirements for the time being.  But I hope to stay connected with the ladies in the league that I have grown to know and love.  I’ve talked with my coaches and the BOD about my situation, and they seem supportive and understanding, and for that I am very thankful.

Frisky Sour recently posted on her blog an article called “Quitting Roller Derby“.  Her last paragraph really hit home for me:

People pop in and out of retirement all the time. Roller derby isn’t going anywhere. It’ll hold while you go have a baby,  finish your degree, catch up on your Netflix, learn to make beer, or spend a year in Budapest – whatever it is that’s calling to you.  There’s a whole, big, beautiful world out there. Roller derby definitely exposed me to a number of experiences I wouldn’t have had otherwise, but it prevented me from experiencing a lot, too. There’s only so much time in your life. Do what you want to do. — Frisky Sour

I’m not heading towards retirement yet (heck – I haven’t even really busted my scrimmage cherry!), and I’m not quitting.  At this point, I’m happy that I’ve gotten to experience roller derby – it was on my list of things to do.  But there are other things I want to do too, things that I have to do.  I just have to recognize that it doesn’t mean I love derby any less, or that it hasn’t made a positive impact on my life, or that it won’t continue being a positive force in my life into the future.  Because I’m still skating, and getting up when I fall…and for now, that will have to be enough.