Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Do the voices in my head bother you?

“Come on, Pippi, you can do better than that!”  …to which the disparaging voice in my head replied, “No, I can’t. I really can’t.”  And then the tears welled up and the skates got shaky and every last drop of adrenaline drained straight down into the floor.

As evolved human beings, we’re supposed to have all this reptile brain stuff built into us.  Super-human feats of strength and remarkable survival instincts that get us out of the most precarious situations, where certain death would otherwise be inevitable.  So WHY is it so hard to tap into this ability when it’s not really a matter of life or death, but simply a will to succeed?

That night at practice, I was awful.  Just awful.  Was it a coincidence that an hour before, I’d just received bad news regarding a job for which I’d recently interviewed and spent weeks working my tail off trying to impress the selection committee every way I knew how? 

Nope, no coincidence there.  I was feeling pretty rejected, and was even starting to wonder if I really had any talent at all – considering that part of my post-interview application submission included posting a few writing samples, which seemed invited by the committee at the time, but were subsequently blatantly ignored.  I know this because I watched the viewer stats on that web page every single day for 21 days.  Not even a nibble.  And then I finally got the “Thank you for interviewing with us, and I wish you the best of luck” email.  

That’s what I carried with me into practice – the disappointment of three interviews for three different positions over the last several months culminating in nothing at all.  My wheels were caked with it:  Rejection.  You’re not good enough.  You have no useful skills.  They met you and didn’t like you.  You don’t fit in… ANYwhere.

We are only as strong as the voices in our heads allow us to be.  This goes for physically as well as mentally.  I know this fact as intimately as I know myself.  I can train and train until I’m red in the face, working on skills, endurance and attitude all at the same time, but when my attitude slips, everything else falls away with it.  My muscles get weak, my balance starts to falter, and in a matter of seconds I can completely “unlearn” what I just spent the last two weeks – or eight months – trying to perfect.

Conversely, when my attitude is well-adjusted and strong, the rest of my body seems to magically follow suit, and I find myself doing things on skates that I didn’t even know I knew how to do. 

So that week had been particularly rough as far as my personal life was concerned, and I was beginning to wonder if I even had a right to order the expensive new skates I so desperately need.  (That particular issue was immediately resolved once I tried on a pair of Antik AR1s that fit my feet like a glove and allowed me to skate like the everlovin’ wind.) 

But I’d been waking up at 2, 3, and 4 am every night, wondering, “What’s to become of me?” and worrying myself into a bad stomach ache that the longer I am unemployed, the harder it will be for me to actually get hired somewhere, and looking ahead into my future as a housewife who has no excuse to do anything at all other than clean, run household errands, and emanate no professional or even mildly lucrative identity whatsoever.  Side note:  If I have to be a stereotypical housewife, I prefer Morticia Addams to June Cleaver.  But the Addams were filthy rich and lived in a mansion, so I guess I’d be more like Lily Munster.  With really expensive roller skates.

Cook your own damn dinner.  I have fabulous to do.
At the same time, Bout Day was quickly approaching.  I wasn’t skating, but I was in charge of media, advertising, advance ticket sales, and videography, so I had plenty of distractions.  I felt needed.  Useful.  Wanted.  There were even a few times I might not have come to practice because I was feeling all weepy and down, but HAD to, because the girls were expecting me to be there to give them more tickets to sell, or to take ticket money off their hands.  If I didn’t show up, that might mean fewer ticket sales for the league.  So I forced myself to go to practice, emotional rain or shine.  And that cheered me up, every time.

So when Bout Day finally came, I found myself sitting in the audience with my camera watching them play, and a strange, foreign feeling washed over me.  It felt good, it made me smile despite myself, and it wouldn’t go away.  Was it… Happy?  Yes, I think that was it.

That was when it really, truly sank in for me, sitting right there in the front row, surrounded by other non-skating derby girls who were shrieking at the team like Highland banshees.  I had allowed something completely unrelated to derby ruin my derby.  WTF?!

That night I went out and partied with the girls and smiled until my face hurt, all the while reflecting on the fact that those girls had been doing everything they could to encourage me at practice – always have – they're totally on my side.  And I was letting some curmudgeon employer who knew me for exactly one hour of my life dictate how I was going to skate at practice that day?  Once again, I implore you… WTF?!

Curmudgeon can bite me.
Not fair to them.  Not fair to me.  Curmudgeon employer doesn’t get to ruin everything in my life… he just gets to disappoint me in one particular thing, and that’s it.  I just couldn’t believe, once I’d finally seen the reality of it all, that I’d allowed the last eight months of my hard work and progress to be completely dismembered by this pesky job situation.  That self-deprecating voice in my head may bum me out at home, it may interfere with my day, it may deplete my energy all week long by waking me up in the middle of the night and cursing at me, but when I’m at practice, that voice needs to Shut. The hell.  Up.

So my new skates have been ordered, the new practice schedule is in full swing, and the many voices in my head are now instructed to gang up on that one – the curmudgeon who says I can’t, I’m not good enough, I don’t belong.  Because the Girls have voices too, and when I’m at practice, they get precedence in my brain, and nobody gets to argue with the Girls.  “Come on, Pippi, you can do better than that!”  Hellz yeah I can.