I didn’t make the team.
All of the practices, cross-training, volunteering, miles driven, hours given, date nights forgone, family time sacrificed, sleep short-changed, money spent, blood and tears spilt- it wasn’t enough.
My best just wasn’t enough.
I don’t know if you have ever had to look yourself in the eye and admit that, but let me tell you, it’s tough. Now imagine having to look everyone else in the eye while admitting that, everyone else who made it while you got left behind. You weren’t good enough. They know it; you know it. No apologies.
Never mind the fact that the decision was a fair one; I myself felt far from ready for competition. It’s just that although I knew I had a long way to go, I didn’t know the road would be so long, or so hard. I didn’t realize that I would be kicked from the grownup’s table before I had even secured a seat. It hurt. A lot. Did I mention I found out the news on my birthday? (Sorry for ya!) I felt like a part of me had died.
Practices became a thing to endure, my eyes downcast as I pretended not to hear the celebratory salutations echoing around me. Volunteering at bouts and other derby events held no appeal. I hadn’t made the team, they weren’t my victories. It became extremely difficult to justify being away from home so often. I couldn’t bear to be so involved with something I thought didn’t want me. I even unfollowed my derby friends on Facebook. How could I continue to give so much to something that that gave so little in return? Why was I even doing this? Clearly, I had no place in roller derby. Like a dog with my tail between my legs, I withdrew, or at least I tried to.
The only thing worse about not doing derby, is not doing derby when you desperately want to.
Hiding at home, doing my best to avoid my previous life, pretending that I was better off without all of the hassle was really not working for me. Quitting was proving to be the most difficult thing of all. I had already invested so much of myself in this. Besides, I had just bought a ton of team swag to wear. At this point roller derby and I had gone way beyond a casual fling. We were going steady! I couldn’t continue to go to bed angry.
I learned so much during those dark days of derby depression- lessons in humility, perseverance, and what it really means to be a part of a team. What a fool I had been, thinking I could just walk away. Ride or die, baby- we are a team!
I opened my heart again, and let the light of the quad shine in.
There are worse things than not making a team. Like quitting; quietly walking away from a dream and watching it die, doing nothing to ease the suffering; allowing misery, self-doubt, and shame to replace your ambitions; being content with boring, safe, easy. Worse looks like using your kids, job, spouse as excuses to put off being awesome. Because you know you would have been, IF ONLY given the opportunity. Well guess what- no one gives you greatness. You want to be strong, someone important, the type of person to whom others look to reaffirm their own ambitions? You gotta work for it. That type of greatness must be earned. There are no easy paths. And when your path to great involves a demonstrable skill, there is no hiding behind good intentions and a smile.
I grew up. These women are amazing. How can I stay away? Despite my recent bout of wishy-washy and suckitude, they continue to greet me with a smile. My failings are met with words of support and encouragement. Most importantly, they still hit without apology. And for that I am grateful.