“Mental toughness is the psychological attribute that separates greatness from mediocrity.”
It is difficult to write about your life experiences when you are completely confounded by them.
When I have stopped to ponder why I haven’t written for so long I considered blaming it on a lack of inspiration. So then I questioned myself, “What do you need to inspire you?”
Well I started this blog when I discovered Roller Derby, and at the time the topic and experiences surrounding my involvement in the sport were so exciting that I felt compelled to share them or at least just get them down on paper (or amongst the interwebs). The focus was clear….I loved skating and everything involved with skating and it was taking over my life in the most intense yet alluring way. Once discovering my passion for the sport, suddenly I had new goals and plans and felt confident that I knew exactly what I wanted.
So the question becomes, “has derby become less exciting or alluring?”
… well no.
But things are definitely different.
When I first put on my skates and participated in my first bouts, I was enthralled with the duality, the concept of an ‘alter-ego’, and the ability to hide behind of mask of make-up and protective gear. It started to affect my everyday life, as I begun to truly believe that my superhero persona was a separate person living a separate life that wasn’t really mine.
She did what she wanted, she took risks, she seemed extremely exciting, mysterious and interesting. She made bold choices and made huge life declarations without worrying about judgement or consequence. However, after a while, the super hero cape and phone booth fantasy began to fade and I realized all the dream chasing I had been doing was actually affecting my real existence, and happiness, on this earth.
The Clark Kent of my reality was freaking out. The day job, the office clothes, the purpose of this other half, was becoming less and less recognizable.
The amount of commitment to play on such a competitive team is…well… a lot. Not only was I skating a minimum of 3 times a week but cross-training practically 5 days a week and when I had an hour or two lying in bed before passing out at night, I was visualizing and strategizing and planning my next move.
The extreme amount of focus and energy being concentrated on Superman…was really starting to piss off poor ol’Clark.
I know I have been back and forth about this subject for a while now but with the season technically ‘over’ it has given me a chance to breathe and truly digest it all. This is no longer some kind of fantasy. This sport has no longer become my ‘outlet’ or my way to participate in a lifestyle I secretly wished was my own.
It has become my reality.
I no longer ‘wish I was an athlete in training’. Or daydream what it would have been like if I would have had the coaching, the support, the training. Or wonder where my life would be if I moved to the city someday.
I am an athlete in training. I’m not chasing some kind of crazy pipe dream or wild lifestyle, I am pursuing a serious career in full contact highly competitive sport. I have changed jobs and homes and familiarity for it.
For me I guess the biggest lesson I’ve learned this season is that there is a lot to be said about a strong ‘mental game’. Luckily I have so many experienced and wise team mates whom have not only bestowed relevant advice, but have also been impressive examples of how to keep it together when you are on the track and part of a team.
The opportunities I have had, the caliber of athletes I have been able to skate with and learn from, the new places I have gotten to see – there is nothing I would trade in the world for these experiences. But I feel like I am ready for a reality check.
Yes I could die tomorrow (as I have preached in previous posts) and yes I want to live my life to the fullest and chase my highest excitements and push myself as far as I can go, but I also want to love the shit out of people and laugh and ENJOY all the little parts of life as well. Thankfully my team mates have become wonderful additions to my derby life as well as my personal life. I have found some very special people and am so happy and thankful for that.
So in continuation of the ‘mental game’ lesson…going into next season (and starting right now) I am going to continue to focus on balance. I have spent a lot of my life punching and kicking my way through closed doors and half-open windows, ready to take on anyone or anything….but really….a bit of meditation and a ‘warrior pose’ or two might be just as gratifying. Learning to be a little (or a lot) more flexible as well as learning who I am on and off the track could be the secret to becoming an even more fierce competitor as well as attaining healthier mind, body and soul.
Workin’ on it.