Last night I took hold of my fear and went out for roller derby.

It was hard. Really hard.

First of all, here I was, by myself in a group full of women I’d never met before facing a complete unknown of getting on roller skates and throwing myself across a gym floor. I’m not good in groups and I’m not good with strangers, and usually I’m the girl standing in the back looking awkward while everyone around me seems to excel at the meet and mingle and I just feel more and more like a loser. But I didn’t. All of these woman were here for the same reason that I was and all of them were just as thrilled and terrified to be there. There were woman of all ages, women who did sports and women who didn’t, I fit in by not fitting any specific type. And I talked to them, I learned about them and they asked about me and we all talked about how we had ended up there and how scared we were because none of us knew what to expect or whether we could handle what they were going to throw at us.

And then it started and I felt like it was gym class all over again. We ran laps and I had to speed walk the last part, we did lunges and I thought I wasn’t going to make it across the gym, we did squats and my legs started shaking, we did crunches and crossovers and all these things to the point that I keep thinking I needed it to stop because I wasn’t going to make it.

You know what, I did make it. I struggled to get out of the lunges but I made it across the gym, my legs started shaking but I made it through the squats, I struggled to the end of the workout, but I got to the end.

And then it was time to put skates on, and it all felt so completely foreign to me. I’m not a great ice skater, but once I get going I can move at a decent speed. The thing is, blades and wheels are two completely different things, and when you push to the side on wheels, they just stick to the floor. I made it around the track three times and my ankles were killing me and I had to sit down and I felt like a complete loser. Everyone else was doing so well, or they looked like they were miles ahead of me. And then I worked my way back into the group and one of the girls who had been training for 6 months already came over to me and asked me if I wanted her to help me get caught up to the group, and she worked with me through getting better on the skates, and falling and making me feel better about the state I was in.

I couldn’t believe this woman was being so nice to me. I couldn’t believe they were all so nice. I couldn’t believe how good I felt when I left the gym.

Now, I have to decide whether I want to go back. The fact is that as much as I felt like I couldn’t get through it and as much as I’m worried about my fitness level, and as much as I wanted to yell “I can’t do this!” I did it. As much as I’m afraid to go back and test myself like that again, I’m afraid to give up on myself. As much as I don’t think I have the time in my schedule or the strength in my body to do this, I don’t want to not do it.

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