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Published on March 19th, 2012 | by DerbyLife


Freak-Out Fuel and the Caveman Brain: Gaining Perspective

By TK-Oh! #3, South Bend Roller Girls

If you think about it, most people, most of the time, will run if you chase them—and all the more if they know you’re trying to knock them into next week—but say they’re cornered? The only option then is to fight. Without that looming threat of imminent impact, what rationale is there to start swinging? I mean, I could sit here pontificating about all the reasons why suddenly bursting into a few rounds of shadow boxing might be invigorating, but let’s be honest, to the caveman brain, invigoration just isn’t the same caliber motivation as a big, woolly pivot beast beelining to make you her breakfast…which brings me to the reason I believe I’ve been freaking myself out lately without any freak-out worthy provocation. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to my great epiphany: I am powered by fear, and in the absence of it, I will evidently manufacture it in order to make sure I’m firing on all cylinders.

WFTDA testing for recruits like me is in T-minus two days. We’ve more than killed the drills these last six weeks, so it’s not like I don’t know what’s coming, nor is it that I haven’t passed all the practice tests so far with flying colors. Sunday should be a technicality, but for someone who has conditioned herself to feed off pressure, it’s anything but. It can’t just be a technicality because technicalities aren’t scary pivot beasts, and if they aren’t, how can I be sure I’ll fight? That I’ll give 200%? At least that seems to be what my caveman brain is asking, and frankly, dear reader, it’s time to evolve.

For years, I psyched myself up by psyching myself out with double full-time credit hour loads, marathons, and long course triathlon races. I put myself in a corner by signing up and plunking down hundreds of dollars, and with nowhere to run then, I had to fight just to keep my head above water. I was “freak-out” jet-fueled, and how can you not be successful when, as far as your caveman brain goes, you’ve put your life on the line? But I’ve come to learn here in the last several days that hardwiring yourself like this is kind of dangerous because after having rerouted all your circuits, when you come upon a new challenge, you’re at risk for making it a lot harder than it has to be just so you can feel that familiar state of pressure again. The result? A whole bunch of unnecessary stress. Yep. Welcome to my last six weeks.

Now I’m by no means saying that this recruit training has been easy. Trust me, it hasn’t, but it also hasn’t been this impossible Everest of an endeavor I’ve been making it out to be either. “You’ve got this,” all my league sisters and coaches keep telling me, and I think it’s time to start playing that tape in my head. Why? Because you know what, I’ve finally realized that derby is going to be plenty rife with real pivot beasts and related Block-a-saurus Rexes come scrimmage and bout time, so I don’t need to manufacture any monsters to get my mojo on, least of all in these last few days of boot camp and testing. The reality is a three-inch triangle is just a three-inch triangle, the 25-in-five is more about form than speed, the WFTDA written test is online to practice for chrissakes, and regarding giving and taking hits, so far I’ve held my own OK with some of the more infamous wrecking balls on our team, and there’s no reason to believe they’ll suddenly go all rabid ape on me this Sunday. I’ll be fine. This test will not be a teeth-gnashing jabberwocky come to get me; it will just be a test of skills that I’ve already passed several times, and with that, I think it’s time to get out of the tree.


Yep. I got this.

Postscript: I was told I passed all my skill tests “with flying colors,” and I got a 100% on my WFTDA written test!

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