Published on December 16th, 2013 | by Jam Slanders1
Photo by O'Durgy, Image by Veronica Scars, Skater Trix Ann Riots
Ask Jam Slanders: Derby Burnout Help!
I have been playing roller derby for a while and I love it… most of the time. I have been burned out the past 2 years and have thought often about taking a derby break. I know some of it is my poor delegation skills, but maybe it’s just time to get away for a bit and refresh. But is taking a “derby break” really just a death sentence? Do skaters successfully come back from breaks?
Dear Burnt Out,
I talked to a couple of folks who had been in similar situations. From what I am gleaning, successful returns depend on a couple of factors: 1) the health of the league (and your happiness within it); 2) your skating status/ability and confidence in it; and 3) demands/desires from the rest of your life, whatever they may be.
“Taking a break was the best thing I ever did. I’m a student and I needed to focus on school. I was going to take a year off, but I missed it too much and came back after six months. It made me a better player because I was focused again at practice and used my derby time wisely instead of just showing up like a robot, because I had to.”
“I thought I would take a break, but after derby was out of my life, I was over it. I thought about what it would be like rushing around again after getting off of work to try to eat and get ready for practice and then go to practice and it was draining just to think about it. I should say I wasn’t that good to begin with.”
“While I was pregnant I thought there was no way I’d go back to derby. Then I had my daughter and all of a sudden I realized what derby meant to me as a person, and the person I wanted to be for my daughter—healthy and balanced. I’m not saying that’s the path for all moms, but I felt that getting back into derby was what I wanted to do.”
“I’m on a break right now. I really do want to come back, but I get nervous thinking about it. My team just had their season awards and I saw all the people who have clearly surpassed me while I’ve been gone. I mean, am I even going to be on the all-star team anymore? Some days I wonder if I’m up to it, to going back and not being as good as I was, and having to learn new rules because it’s always changing. Plus, the leadership of the league is kind of switching, and I’m not sure how I feel about that.”
Based on these conversations, I suggest you ask yourself a couple of things:
1) Why are you burned out? If you’ve just overcommitted, a break may do you good. If it’s because of league drama, you may find it harder to return because you won’t get any less tired of dealing with it, and/or things haven’t changed. But, if things have changed, you may find it a better place.
2) Are you in a place where you can take off of derby and stay in shape? If derby is the only thing that keeps you active, it can be harder to come back from being sedentary. If you’re taking off make sure you are staying in shape physically (and not in the shape of an Arby’s Beef ‘n’ Cheddar.) Otherwise, the climb will be twice as steep getting back to the track, and the frustration with your physical fitness will likely make your return that much more challenging.
3) How confident are you in your skating skills—and how well do you deal with not skating up to your own expectations? If you’re the type that gets frustrated easily, your return may be hampered or even foiled entirely if your ego can’t handle the inevitable backslide in your derby skills. If you’ve experienced this before (e.g., with an injury), your resilience is probably greater and you’ll do fine, but if you’re not used to working hard to suck less than other people, it might be an unpleasant obstacle to consider.
4) How tempting is your not-derby life? Things change when you step away from the track, and what you find during your break may present an unexpected challenge to your return. If there are other things that fill that particular hole in your heart (or sex parts), you may not be as excited as you thought you’d be to return. Maybe you’re playing a different sport, hanging out with a new group of friends, or have a new person in your life (hot piece, infant, etc.) You’ll have to weigh the sacrifice when you consider returning.
Whatever the case, do what makes you happy. You don’t want to come back to derby because of a sense of obligation—you want to come back because you want to come back.
Latest posts by Jam Slanders (see all)
- Ask Jam Slanders: When Do You Pack It In? - July 17, 2014
- Ask Jam Slanders: Getting Started with Photography - May 9, 2014
- Ask Jam Slanders: Derby Burnout Help! - December 16, 2013