I remember when I was a young barber, excited about getting started, and guys would just say the wildest/rudest shit to me. In a moment of desperation I asked another barber, "Why do people feel like they can say whatever the fuck they want to me??" And instead of answering, she drew the shape of a smile in the air with her index finger.
Oh, I thought, So I just need to be a crabby bitch like you and then people will respect me?
(I was a little feistier back then than I am now.) Well that can't be right. That's not how I want to live!
This has been a recurring theme over the years, in derby and whatever semblance of a life I've had outside of it. We have this weird cultural thing where people take the happy lightly and act like you're so much more sophisticated if you're cynical and condescending.
The early days of derby (circa 2003) were known for many things, but compassionate women wasn't one of them! It was a brutal time to be a happy idealist, young and excited about life. People were so shitty to me! I'm stoked to see the culture so much more evolved, but every once in a while I still see remnants of the whole mean girl thing.
Personally, I've worked really fucking hard to become someone who loves life, has a warm presence, feels good to be around. Anyone who underestimates that is truly weak, in my opinion.
It actually takes much more power to be awesome and light up a room than to suck all the energy from it. And to shine, smile and live a life full of happiness is actually grueling fucking work. Whether it's derby or somewhere else. Our culture at large would be smart to stop underestimating the happy person...
Cuz they're generally the most powerful one in the room, even if they're not aware of it yet, or are wise enough not to flex it on others all the time. And don't be afraid to become one! It takes more strength, maybe, but what's so bad about getting stronger? xoxo