I am terrified of making a fool of myself. That might come as a shock to some since I seem to do it so regularly, with reckless abandon in fact. When I first decided I was going to do derby, this fear was about 100% stronger than it is now.
I had skated at elementary school birthday parties, but I had no reason to believe that I could skate beyond a few cake-fueled hours at the rink, and I was much closer to the ground in those days. So before my first day at Hard Knox, I was not at all prepared to skate fast and turn left. I had no idea what to expect - which was hard - because when you’re trying to avoid humiliation, it’s helpful to have the ability to plan ahead. I’m a law student. We like structure. Sue me.
It was on that first day I realized that no one had ever taught me how to stop during those disco ball infused days at the rink. I’d managed moving forward, but there was always a wall to plow into if I decided I’d rather be stationary.
We warmed up on that first day - a few laps around the track. Moving forward. No problem. Until Chris, the most-excellent-derby-explainer-extraordinaire, steps onto the track in front of me. “STOP” he says. He says that as if that’s something I’d thought about before that exact moment. "Stop?" What does he mean "stop?" Clearly there are no waist-high, carpet-covered barriers for me to crash into (I quickly checked to make sure). He can’t mean I should make myself stop. Oh God. He does. That’s what he means. There’s no way. How do I… This is gonna…
I ate it.
At the moment, I was just sure I’d confirmed my idiocy in front of the massive crowd of five at the newbie practice.
BUT I WAS FINE.
It was the first, but certainly not the last time I would feel like an idiot while on my skates. I often resemble a cat wearing mittens.
But that’s okay. Derby forced me to get over my fear of looking like a doofus. I’ve made a fool of myself over the past year, but I’ll be damned if I’m not proud of myself.