This is something I didn't think I'd write about for a while. My derby journey was going along quite swimmingly, admittedly with a few bumps along the way, but I could see myself slowly improving, and then I got to Level 2 and I couldn't believe I'd done it, and I was learning new things, but then it started to plateau. Things that I couldn't originally do, I still couldn't do. It wasn't like they had got a tiny bit better, they were exactly the same. For example, my endurance laps had not changed. My personal best is 23 3/4 and that is what I have got every time I've tried it since. I really worked on my crossovers, thinking they would help but I got 22 laps. I really tried my hardest, threw in as many crossovers as I could, pushed myself, and I got 23 1/2. So, in fact, I was getting worse!
I am still terrified of pack work, I still look at my feet, I still touch too many people, and grab on when I trip, or roll in to them when trying to stop. I still can't give whips; I feel like I'm doing nothing, I always drift in to the middle of the track, I always use just my arms rather then my whole body. I still have a mental block over counter-clockwise transitions, and it seems to be worse now I've convinced myself I can't do them. I still can't weave through cones, my derby stance is crap, my plough stops rarely work...whine, whine, whine. I used to leave practice either on a major high because I had accomplished something, or on a major low because I was frustrated and couldn't do something. But now I just leave feeling deflated. It's almost like I've stopped caring. Like I don't see the point anymore. I feel like I have got to a wall, and on that wall is a sign that reads "This is a far as you're gonna get". I have reached my peak, this is as good at skating I am ever going to get. It's like that bastard level on a video game which you realise you're never going to complete because it is just too hard and you do not have the wits to defeat it.
That hit hard. That was exactly how I felt. I was convinced I wasn't getting any better because no one had told me I was getting better. I was expecting streamers, a round of applause, fireworks, a neon sign saying NAILED IT! whenever I achieved something. I'm not saying my coaches or fellow skaters are horrible and never say nice things, but what they did say wasn't enough for me. At Level 1, I used to be this terrible skater that seemed to go against the odds and, although it took a while, managed to pass Level 1. I used to get praise because I managed to do it, but now I've shown that I can do it, I have the mindset to get through the skills, I don't need encouragement anymore because I should know I can do it.
The more I thought about it, the more I realised that I didn't want to be patronised, I did want to be helped. I didn't want to be cheered on, I wanted to be criticised. The only way I'm going to break through that wall is if someone slaps me round the face, says "Stop sulking and f*cking practice!"