Melodie – Facing my (very gigantic) fears

Tuesday night, for the first time ever, I got on roller skates.

Let me give you some background here. Ask anyone who is related to me to decribe me and the words “clumsy” or “uncoordinated” will probably come up. I am prone to getting these wicked leg cramps in my sleep and one time when I was about 16, I got one in the early morning and my dad was passing by room and heard me groaning and said something like, “Wow, she’s so clumsy she can hurt herself lying down.”

That is pretty much it. So I don’t know what I was thinking when I signed up for roller derby training this summer. I guess I was thinking that willing myself to be intrepid might make me so.

Well I got up on roller skates, and I spent an hour and a half trying very hard to keep my balance and not fall down. I fell down a lot. I very quickly realized I couldn’t even do the basic drills the others were doing. About 10-15 minutes after strapping on those skates, I was ready to burst into tears. What had I gotten myself into? I collapsed. I could not do this.
One of the other girls noticed me sitting on the bench and came over and said “Are you okay?”
I said “I don’t know – maybe this is not for me.”
She said “Sure it is!” and somehow I got up and kept trying.
An hour and a half later, I could more or less skate around without falling. I still wasn’t as good as anyone else, but I was way better than I’d been when I first started. I realized that you can’t compare yourself or your speed of learning to anyone else – you can only compare yourself to yourself. It’s hard to remember that in a group activity – especially if everyone else is a beginner too and they’re all catching on faster – but if I want to keep at this I will just have to be a trooper and be okay with being terrible for awhile.

The next morning I woke up with the muscles in my legs, feet and butt just a world of sore. So I did a very not me thing – I stretched them out, and went for a 22 km bike ride. This may have been slightly excessive – but I am going to get those muscles stronger, dammit! Next time I get on the skates needs to be less embarrassing!

I was telling someone about this experience later and she asked, “So do you think this is going to be a good exercise for you?” I felt like she was kind of missing the point. If I just wanted to exercise, I could bike, I could swim, I could any of a number of things I already know how to do well. Here’s the number one reason I am doing this:

I scares the crap out of me.
It scared me to go the first practice, and if anything, knowing how hard it is, it scares me MORE to go the second one. But if I go, and I try hard, it’s impossible for me not to get somewhat better.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Katie running her first marathon Sunday. This is so amazing I can’t even contemplate it – when she talks about this being a lifelong dream, I’m so proud but also I just can’t relate because I’ve never had dreams like that, about pushing my own physical limits. But ever since I saw a derby game last year I’ve wanted to be able to do this and I think know I can. It’s amazing even to imagine it.

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6 Responses to Melodie – Facing my (very gigantic) fears

  1. stacey says:

    That’s a very inspiring story!! I wish/think everyone would/could experience going out of their “comfort zone” at least once! Great job!!

  2. Tania says:

    yeah, girl! you’ve shown a lot about your character by facing your fears. so awesome!

  3. wordywort says:

    If you’d said you were trying roller derby as an experienced skater, I would have said yay. But you are trying roller derby while learning to skate – truly awesome. I think I get where you are coming from. I wrote about going to Zumba for the first time not realizing that it is basically a dance class. Now I keep going back *because* I suck at dancing. And it’s not that I think I am ever going to become more graceful, either. For me it’s new to go into something not planning to excel by other people’s standards or by some objective measure. But it’s become a kind of thrill to push myself, to see what I am capable of, to get my heartrate up in a new context.

  4. Barbara says:

    You said two things that stick with me and will help you stick with Derby:
    1. It’s about getting better than YOU were, not better than others. You’ll have a lifetime of opportunities to succeed.
    2. You do it because it scares you. Doing it for thrills is also about you and you are all that matters.
    For the record, and not that it matters since I’ve said it’s all about you, I think you’re amazing. If your Derby team has open tryouts, please let me know.

  5. “pushing down my own physical limits” that gave me goosebumps! Melodie you go and SQUASH THEM!!! PS. I think you would rock the roller derby look with those curls of yours and some funky tights!

  6. melodiecardin says:

    Barbara,
    I’m not really sure about open tryouts. You can have a look at the website and see what you can find out, the League is Rideau Valley Roller Girls.
    All:
    Thanks for your support! I will be have your words in my mind tonight – second practice! I would just love to be able to keep up tonight.

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