Big break in posts there. I started writing one last week, but things have been hectic.
I had a birthday, and it was pretty awesome, to be honest. My partner took me to see William Shatner and we got home and watch vintage x-files, so I’m pretty sure that’s the nerdiest thing ever. Yes, sorry dear reader, I am far from the paragon of cool you imagined me to be. On the upside, I think I was the only person at Shatner to be there because I’m a fan of his music (I have never seen an entire episode of Star Trek OR Boston Legal).
I also had my OSA. On Sunday.
It was the day I had been waiting for since I first strapped on skates. The day I didn’t get to in 2011 because I broke my stupid leg. The day I had been busting my butt for. I read the rules a dozen times, trying to figure out exactly how long a jammer should sit in the penalty box for if they had been sent to the box, but left early, but the other jammer had been sent to the box, and then they both swore at the crowd. Egregiously.
I strapped my ankle with fancy pink tape. I distracted myself by watching scary funny youtube videos. I hydrated for DAYS.
I got there and sat the written exam. Ok, this is ok, I know all these answers (even though there wasn’t a single question about how long a jammer should sit in the box).
I strapped my skates on and warmed up.
I had decided that the best way to overcome my nerves was to be as vocally supportive of everyone else as I could. So I did. It helped. As others relaxed, I relaxed. As the mood improved, so did our skills.
It was weird, and stressful, but it was ok. I was dreading two things. Left knee taps (I have a tendency to trip) and jumps.
The very thing that had made skating a source of fear for so long. I had jumped at practice, but never OVER something. But suddenly I had to jump OVER things. At the last minute a fellow freshie said “Just keep your eyes up”. I did. And I jumped. And it was glorious! I cleared those cones by miles! I hung in the air for an eternity. And I landed, smoothly, with stability a gymnast would kill for.
The whole thing was tough.
I worked so hard, but I wasn’t entirely sure how I’d done. I’m hyper-critical of myself at the best of times.
But no more suspense, I got in. I passed. I am now cleared for full contact, and preparing to play my first bout. Holy Shit, you guys. I have my first training session tonight.
I’m anxious about my fitness, I feel it’s not where I would like it to be, and things are going to be extra difficult until it is. I’m anxious because I have wanted it for so long, and now I have it, what if I’m terrible? What if I am an awful derby player, even though I love it? It’s a bit like my degree. I’m nearly finished, but what if I can’t get a job? What if I’m actually a terrible therapist?
I feel like an imposter – even though I know I’ve worked hard, maybe I don’t deserve it. And this isn’t helped by people.
You know how it is, you achieve something that you have worked really hard for and someone says “You’re so lucky”.
It seems innocuous, but it’s a loaded statement. There is some deep, hidden undertone of “You don’t deserve this, you wouldn’t have it if it weren’t for luck”.
It undermines women in particular so much there is even a thing called “imposter Sydnrome” where people, most frequently women, are convinced they do not deserve to be where they are, that they didn’t work hard enough. I hear it so often. Or from people who tried but failed. “I wish I was as lucky as you, then I mightn’t have failed”
Fuck off. I worked for this.
I know, hard work doesn’t always lead to victory, but that doesn’t mean I don’t deserve to be where I am. Or when people overlay their negative experiences onto yours. Like “Oh, you won the thing, I hope this awful thing that happened to me when I won the thing doesn’t happen to you. I’m sure you won’t, you’re lucky, not like me”.
Don’t detract from my work! So often our work is diminished and ignored – There’s no way you could have arrived here on your own – you must have had help.
You are an imposter.
Maybe you have it in your job, sly little comments about how difficult it will be to manage these rowdy men, or maybe you hear it about someone else – how people aren’t really sure she belongs there, she wears too much makeup and does things differently.
But roller derby is a sport. Luck doesn’t come into it (well, not like this). We work hard. If you don’t work hard you don’t improve, or you improve slowly.
The skater who nailed her skills test? While you were only training two hours a week, she was on skates every other day, and doing squats in front of the X files. The blocker who plays pivot even though it’s her very first season? She watches derby footage every spare moment and studies tactics.
Sure, for some people things will come more naturally than for others, but that only takes you so far. The rest you have to WORK for.
Someone said in a group workshop at uni last year “I don’t know how Smasha does it, I mean, I don’t have half the things going on that she does, but she always does well”
I looked her straight in the eye and I said
“I work really fucking hard.”
So when you feel envious of someone’s skills, think about all the hours they put into them to get there. Think about what they found a way to give up to get there, or how creative they had to be to fit everything in (I have a toddler, I’m on placement, I am doing a Masters degree, I have a husbear, some semblance of a social life and run a small business, also I procrastinate – it’s all about creative scheduling for me).
If you can’t do that, that’s ok! You don’t have to, but don’t take away from what they have put in by calling it luck.
So let’s all try and be slightly less douche-baggy.
And, for the record, no, this isn’t about anyone in particular. My league is really lovely and supportive, it is just something that was playing on my mind!
Tomorrow I will tell you all about my first session as an OSA!!!!!!
PS, I’m officially Brimful of Smasha #45