Sometimes I'm asked how it feels to be the first full time traveling roller derby coach. Physically, it's exhausting! But personally, it feels like a huge, validating year of winning. Only because I had to wrestle with a subversive loser complex for so long.
As mentioned in the previous post, I'd been a barber, by trade, for about 10 years.
Right around the time I started getting really into roller derby, the barbering business in my area completely tanked. It was because we relied heavily on military clientele, and The War In Iraq had just begun.
I was faced with a choice, as my income had just literally been cut in half. Pick up twice as many shifts, maybe even a another job... or pursue roller derby.
Now, this was at a very different time and place in the world. I'm fuzzy with dates, but let's call it 2004. There were no roller derby books, movies, or subculture semi-known about by mainstream as there is today. There was just a hand full of cities that had some crazy chicks doing crazy things on skates in front of audiences of 300. On a sold out day.
So, for me to make this choice meant having my brand new truck repossessed, defaulting on credit cards and going about $20,000 in debt overnight. At 23 years old, I went from having the approval of everyone around me to dealing with downcast eyes and half smiles on the regular.
Just as, I'm sure, every person with well meaning friends, family and co-workers would.
This was definitely a bigger blow to everyone's plans for me than the day I announced I was dropping out of college. I went from being mildly disappointing to a straight up LOSER in status.
I haven't talked about this with many people, because you would not believe how obnoxious people can be when they're trying to be helpful because they're concerned about your financial well being. When you make a choice like that, even people who think they love you unconditionally will show how judgmental they can be.
It takes a special person to hear the passion in your voice, see the emotional hunger in your eyes, and feel the vibration of every cell in your being needing to pursue what you love in life, no matter the cost or consequences; and nurture that inclination.
The way I see it, it's amazing good fortune to have access to even one person that supportive in life.
I get a lot of support for being a person who follows their dreams, now. I know a lot of people admire that about me, now. But I can still sometimes feel the sting of being called a loser, back when I made this choice. Whether it was verbally or vibrationally, I could still feel it when it wasn't said out loud.
Most people don't know how to be happy for someone whose truck just got repossessed. Or to be proud of someone who's not even opening her credit card bills anymore. That's pretty radical and flagrant in most people's eyes.
Which I now understand.
Because I believe that, secretly, everyone wants to stop giving a fuck and start pursuing a life of passion. Even if they don't know what to be passionate about, we all have the seeds of an inner (almost primal) desire to just fucking go for it!
But... we don't all have the courage to live with the consequences of doing so.
The consequences of a choice like that can be pretty harsh, at times. It's not glamorous. It's a person just stripping away all the fancy comforts and certainties of life and living like a starving artist.
I know that there are ways to accomplish great things in life without giving up any of your comforts. There must be people out there who have circumstances that allow that. But those benefits usually come with strings attached, don't they?
Needing a life of freedom, I had only what I could earn myself. And once that was gone, I guess you could say I had nothing to lose!
In 2011 I've traveled to nearly every continent in the world, coaching roller derby. It was an exciting, exhausting, and often incredibly validating year! I don't feel like a loser anymore. I feel like an awesome person! Most days.
I always accomplish what I set out to do in life, this is something I know. People close to me, now, know it too. I've been called everything from "magical" to "witchy."
From that decision until today, all of my accomplishments have been centered around roller derby. My current goals are, as well. I'm sure that if I turned all that magic making mojo towards money making and stability alone, I AM SURE I could have been insanely rich by now, financially.
But, I haven't made traditional investments in life. And I don't expect traditional returns. For now I'm rich with experience, with goal achievement, with personal fulfillment.
I'm too enthralled with concepts like roller derby strategy, sharing information about the sport with as many people as possible, being the best coach any sport has ever seen, and working towards the goal of creating a professional sport to think about... much of anything else. For now.
I know that not everyone who plays is this dedicated to roller derby! And I don't think everyone has to be, or should be anything other than is right for them.
But for those of us who need to lose ourselves in a dream, no matter what the sacrifices, based on faith and intuition and passionate drive alone, for no justifiable, rational or logical reason but the fact that we HAVE TO.... Hear this:
Nobody who plays the game of life with heart is a loser.
It's totally possible to lose, and win, at the same time. The differentiation is in how you feel about yourself and your own efforts, integrity, and your own worth, at the end of the day. Every day.